Maryland Passes New Law to Help Employees Affected by COVID19 (Legal Update)
The State of Maryland acted to help employees faced with workplace challenges in a few specific ways, as well as took other medical related measures, under The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020. The new law came into effect the day that it was signed on March 19, 2020.
1. Wrongful Termination Due to Medical Quarantine Order
Maryland now prevents employers from terminating an employee simply because they have been ordered into isolation or quarantined by a medical or other authority.
While Governor Hogan’s Web site and some news outlets also state that the new law protects employees from termination “to care for a family member due to COVID-19,” the Senate Bill 1080 / House Bill 1663(click to read) that was signed, as available online, lacks any language offering this specific family protection.
People who must care for family members can apply for unemployment benefits, as explained below.
Nevertheless, if an employee has been ordered into quarantine as part of the family unit, they should be protected from termination because they are ordered into isolation or quarantine, simply put. The law does not state an employee must have a specific diagnosis.
Section 1(a)(2)(viii) of both Bills, signed into law: “prohibit an employer from terminating an employee solely on the basis that the employee has been required to be isolated or quarantined under Title 14 of the Public Safety Article.”
2. Unemployment Benefits Relief Expanded.
The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020 also expands unemployment benefits to those affected by COVID-19, even if they were not terminated.
An individual who is quarantined, but who expects to return to work eventually, or who leaves the workplace “due to a risk of exposure or infection of COVID–19 or to care for a family member due to COVID–19” should receive unemployment benefits.
Section 2 of both Bills provides the State the discretion of providing these benefits, because it states the State “may” (and not “shall”) provide unemployment benefits in these circumstances.
Without doubt, each application for unemployment benefits shall be subject to a case by case analysis, as are all unemployment benefit claims.
The new law goes in effect immediately. As Bill Section 3 states, it remains in effect through “April 30, 2021.”
Gregg H. Mosson, Esq.
Mosson Law, LLC
For information on representation in the fields of employment and family law, I invite you to get in touch. Please visit my website at www.mossonlaw.com. The office is based in Towson, Maryland, and the practice ranges Maryland-wide.