Safer-at-home orders bring employees to question their rights amid the coronavirus outbreak

Your Rights as a Worker During a Pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Mid-South is a logistics and shipping hub for the United States. These types of businesses are staying open because they are considered “essential” under these new orders.

However in this age of social distancing, what are your rights when it comes to your health and your job?

There has been some activity at the Nike Distribution Center on New Frayser Boulevard. According to the Memphis Chamber of Commerce website, just over 2,600 employees work for Nike.

It’s unclear how many employees work on any given shift, but the Centers for Disease Control recommends against gathering with more than 10 people at a time.

For now, the state has not ordered large distribution centers or warehouses to shut down. So what can employees do if they are worried about going to work?

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"Well if they’re not sick then there really isn’t much to protect them,” said Employment Law Attorney Alan Crone who works for the Tennessee Employment Law Center.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act that was recently signed into law by the President offers 10 days of paid emergency leave to employees who have been either diagnosed with COVID-19, caring for a family member who has the virus or has been ordered to be quarantined by a healthcare provider.

The paid leave only applies to employees of companies with 500 or fewer employees. Big companies are exempt.

"That’s why I say if you’re required to go into work, then I think you have to go into work and you just need to be sure to take safety precautions,” said Crone.

Nike didn’t respond to our request for comment Monday about precautions inside the Memphis facility.

But in a post earlier this month, Nike said they were offering “the option to work from home, staggered work schedules, social distancing and additional safety and cleaning steps.”

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FedEx said in a statement that the safety of it’s 475,000 FedEx team members is the company’s top priority.

They are promoting social distancing on the job, including measures at security screening on employee shuttles and in common areas.

Remember if your company is doing something that you feel is putting your safety at risk, you can always file a formal complaint with your company’s Human Resources department.

If they don’t act, you can file a complaint with Tennessee OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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