Frequently Asked Questions

What to do if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19?

There is currently no antiviral medication to treat COVID-19. You can try the following to help relieve symptoms:

  • Pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen

  • Cough syrup or medication

  • Rest

  • Drink lots of fluids

See a doctor. If your doctor thinks you can be treated at home, follow their instructions and quarantine yourself from people until your doctor clears you.

When should you visit a Hospital

 If you are very ill, and have difficulty breathing, you should seek help in a hospital.


Are employers required to disclose that someone in the workplace has been diagnosed?

Employers can disclose that someone in the workplace has been exposed to the coronavirus, but they are not allowed to identify the person as that would violate medical privacy laws.


Can an employer take everyone’s temperature before they come into work?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that employers in certain geographical areas check employees’ temperatures at the door. However, this applies onto to these special circumstances, and employers cannot do so under normal circumstances.


My employer is not allowing me to work because I am Asian/Italian/over 40. Can they do that?

This is illegal. Your employer cannot prohibit you from working on this basis. Contact your Union representative if you believe your employer is unfairly stopping you from working.

My employer sent me home from work because I am coughing, what can I do?

If you have a fever (100.5 and over) and respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing), go home and contact a medical professional. If you have respiratory symptoms, no fever, and have potential exposure to COVID-19, go home and contact a medical professional. Contact your Union representative if you believe your employer is unfairly stopping you from working.


Do you know what your employer’s protocols are if there is a confirmed case of Covid 19?

You have the right to ask your employer for the protocols as they relate to the health and safety of workers. It is against the law for any employer to retaliate against any employee for asking about protocols.


If the worksite shuts down, do you get paid?

This has varied from company to company. Speak with your Union representative if your worksite has shut down.


State mandated sick pay

Some States like New York State have adopted paid sick leave laws to respond to this crisis.  New York  has a new law that provides five (5) paid sick days if an employer has 10 or more employees and fourteen (14) days  paid sick days if an Employer has 100 or more employees.


Family and Medical Leave Act

 The Family and Medical Leave Act provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if you have a serious health condition or are caring for a family member with a serious health condition. You must have worked for your employer for a year and your employer must have 50 or more employees.



I’m out of work during the pandemic. How do I apply for unemployment?

File an unemployment claim online. It will be the fastest way to do so. Only do it by phone  if the online form won’t work; it will likely take a long time to get through. Click here to access the online application for your state.

Don’t wait. File it as soon as you find out that you’re not going to be able to work.

If your workplace was shut down because of the crisis, report your reason as “lack of work.”


Am I eligible?

You’re likely eligible if anything about the coronavirus crisis has stopped you from working.

That could mean:

  • Your hours have been cut.

  • Your employer has temporarily shut down.

  • You quit your job because your employer was requiring you to work but you didn’t feel it was safe. You must have tried to keep your job though, which means that you need to bring up your concerns with your supervisor.

  • You were fired because your employer was requiring you to work and you didn’t feel that it was safe.

  • You can’t get to work because public transportation is shut down.

Make sure you document everything by writing down the actions you have taken and the responses of your employer. When it’s deciding if you are eligible for benefits, the state is checking to make sure that you’re “able and available” to work.

States are now taking into consideration some coronavirus-specific situations that shouldn’t hurt your claim. In some circumstances, as long as you’re able to do some kind of remote work, you should qualify.

Those situations include:

  • You can’t work because you have to stay home with your child because schools are closed.

  • You are self-quarantining.

  • If you got some paid sick leave or paid time off to cover days you weren’t working but it didn’t cover all the days you’ve been out of work, you can still file. Just make sure to report that you got paid sick leave.

If you get denied, you have 15 days to appeal. The state is strict about that time frame.


I’m a gig worker. Can I get unemployment benefits?

Most likely not. If you’ve been an employee in the last year and a half, you might be eligible for some benefits, but if you’ve been a 1099 independent contractor for that whole period, you’ll likely be denied.