COVID-19 / Coronavirus Employment FAQs

The employment landscape is rapidly changing as federal and state governments scramble to react to the coronavirus pandemic. Congress and many states are expanding unemployment benefits and sick leave.

Two female workers in office passing documents with keeping a distance and wearing masks

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The ADA and other laws pertaining to disability discrimination and medical information privacy may apply in different ways as employers require additional information about workers who have COVID-19 or show symptoms, who may have been exposed, or who are at high risk.

Workers who are still employed may find themselves working longer hours. Wage and hour laws continue to apply, including laws requiring payment of overtime and minimum wage for non-exempt workers.


Many state unemployment offices are overwhelmed with applications as record numbers of laid-off workers file. Workers have experienced extended wait times when calling about unemployment claims.

The federal government recently passed the Coronavirus Air, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide federal unemployment benefits. This is in addition to state unemployment.

Sick Leave

The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) governs sick leave that eligible employees may take to care for themselves or family members. Many states also have additional protections and sick leave laws.

Congress recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to provide additional sick leave for people affected by COVID-19.

Workplace Safety

Medical Information and Discrimination

Overtime and Minimum Wage

Federal and state wage and hour laws are still in effect. Whether you are working more hours or fewer hours, your pay has been reduced or your status changed, you may have overtime, minimum wage, or other wage claims.

Quick reminder: “exempt” workers are typically paid a salary that does not vary with hours worked and work in positions such as management and high-level administrative work, “professional” work including teaching, certain sales jobs, and high-level technology positions. “Non-exempt” workers are often paid hourly but sometimes are paid flat rates or salaries.

Whether you are considered “exempt” depends on your actual job duties, not on whether you are paid hourly or salary or how your employer classifies you. Many employers illegally give workers inflated titles to avoid paying overtime, which is a violation of federal wage and hour law.

We’re Here to Help

You should contact an attorney experienced in handling employment discrimination matters to discuss your personal situation and discover what claims you may have. The attorneys at Pelton Graham are experienced at advocating for clients who have experienced disability discrimination and are happy to talk with you about your experience. Consultations are free, and as contingency fee attorneys, we do not get paid unless we recover for you.

Contact us today