Remote Policies and Wrongful Termination
By Gregory Thyberg on August 17, 2020
Multiple companies have remote work policies in place that allow employees to work from home. Remote policies have become even more common recently, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many non-essential businesses to shut down their offices and transition to a remote work setting.
In California, government orders are still in place preventing the reopening of numerous businesses. Given this situation, employees are likely to wonder how remote policies affect wrongful termination. Individuals in Sacramento, CA, and surrounding areas who wonder if they have been wrongfully terminated during this time can work with employment law attorney Gregory Thyberg to find out if they have the right to take legal action against their employer.
Setting Up a Remote Work Policy
Whether an employer already had employees who worked from home or they have been forced to transition to a remote setting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they need to have a clear remote work policy in place. A remote work policy should outline procedures and policies for working remotely. Important aspects of a remote work policy include:
- Identifying which employees will work remotely (some offices maintain a small crew of essential workers in-office)
- Which security measures will be in place to protect employer and employee privacy
- What type of equipment and office property can be brought home for work use
- How meetings will take place and how frequently they will occur
- How often employees will check in, or how they will track hours worked
- What type of schedule employees will maintain (i.e. will employees be expected to work their normal hours or will the schedule be more flexible?)
- Identifying a projected end date for the remote policy, or letting employees know when the policy will be updated
Can I Be Fired While Working Remotely?
California is an at-will employment state, which means that employers can let an employee go without providing any reason. This applies whether a person is working in-office or if there is a remote policy in place. However, even at-will employees have certain protections that are meant to prevent wrongful termination.
Employment laws make it illegal to fire someone for reasons of discrimination, including discrimination based on race, age, sex, and religion, or for reasons of retaliation. Again, these laws apply whether a person is working in-office, or if they have been asked to work remotely. Individuals in the Sacramento area who suspect they have been wrongfully terminated while working remotely should discuss their concerns with a knowledgeable employment law attorney, such as Gregory Thyberg.
What If a Remote Work Policy Isn’t Offered and I Refuse to Report to Work?
In normal circumstances, an employee must meet the terms of their employment (including reporting to the office), or face termination. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are exceptions.
If an employer is ignoring the government mandate to keep non-essential workers at home, and they do not offer a remote work policy, it is a person’s legal right to refuse to report to work. If an employee is fired for their refusal, their employer can face wrongful termination charges.
Similarly, if a person refuses to go to work because they believe that it would put them in imminent danger, that is their right. Someone may fear for their safety if their employer is ignoring OSHA standards, or, in regards to COVID-19, if they are denying workers necessary PPE equipment or are ignoring recommended safety guidelines. If an employee is fired under these circumstances, it may also be classified as wrongful termination.
Learn More from Our Firm
If you have recently been terminated and you believe that your employment rights have been violated, attorney Gregory Thyberg in Sacramento can assist you in filing a wrongful termination suit. To discuss your situation in greater detail, send us a message online anytime or call (916) 204-9173.