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Did COVID-19 Create Unsafe Work Conditions?


Employers have a responsibility under both federal and Florida law to provide a safe work environment. There are many detailed regulations, and employers can be sanctioned when they fail to follow the law.

The recent coronavirus outbreak initially caused confusion. Authorities did not fully appreciate the risks, and in some areas government officials encouraged people to go about their daily life as if the virus was no big deal. Consequently, many employers stayed open and required employees to come in, which led to workplace-based infections.

At Earnhardt Law, we represent people who have sustained workplace injuries. Contracting an illness at work can warrant compensation and could possibly sustain a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact us today.

A Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California

According to the Sacramento Bee, a widow in California has brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Safeway for the death of her husband from COVID-19. The widow alleges that her husband caught the virus at Safeway’s distribution center in Tracy, where more than 50 people had tested positive for COVID-19.

The legal pleadings allege that Safeway threatened to punish workers when they complained about the lack of personal protection equipment and the absence of sanitation stations.  The complaint also alleges that Safeway did not screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms before letting them into the facility to work.

The Safeway at issue employed 1,700 workers, out of which 51 tested positive for the virus. Safeway has not immediately responded to the legal complaint or to inquiries from the media.

Is an Employer Liable for Injury or Death?

Family members of other workers who have died from the virus have also filed their own lawsuits. For example, a worker at a beef processor in Pennsylvania died from the virus, which he allegedly contracted at work. His family members filed a wrongful death lawsuit, as did the surviving family members of a meat packing worker in Texas.

Whether a worker has a valid claim depends on many factors, such as:

  • How early in the pandemic the worker contracted the virus
  • Whether the employer knew that other employees had COVID-19
  • Whether the employer punished a worker who wanted to stay home when feeling sick
  • The quality of sanitation stations and personal protection equipment provided to workers
  • Any screening used before allowing workers into a facility
  • Whether an employer provided information about symptoms to workers
  • Whether the employer enforced social distancing or rearranged the workplace

A worker also must have contracted the virus at work to hold the employer liable. This means excluding other sources, such as school or home. If there was a big outbreak at a plant or facility, then this is strong proof that a worker contracted the virus at work.

Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney in Delray Beach

Although the pandemic seems to be waning, many workers are only now trying to figure out where they contracted the novel coronavirus. If your employer did not provide a safe work environment, you might be entitled to compensation.

For help, contact the Delray Beach workplace accident attorneys at Earnhart Law today by calling 561-265-2200. We offer a free consultation.





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