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Attorney General’s Office Publishes Workplace Guidance on COVID-19-Related Concerns

March 24, 2020

Contact: Charity Clark, Chief of Staff, (802) 828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan today announced that his office has published the COVID-19 Pandemic Resources for Vermont Employers and Employees. The guidance, which follows a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) format, addresses a variety of issues—such as pay obligations during an Emergency Order or harassment of workers relating to COVID-19 fears. The guidance was written by the Attorney General’s Office’s (AGO’s) Civil Rights Unit, with input from the Human Rights Commission. It includes links to additional information from sources such as the Vermont Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and the Vermont and U.S. Departments of Labor.

The guidance is available on the “COVID-19 Information and Resources” page of the AGO’s website. The page also includes information on scams, price gouging, landlord-tenant and foreclosures concerns, heating fuel, propane, and other utilities; resources for small businesses; and the Guidance on Vermont’s Open Meeting Law, Physical Distancing, and COVID-19. This page is regularly updated with new information.

“Both employers and workers have questions during these unprecedented times,” said Attorney General Donovan. “I hope this guidance will provide clarity for Vermonters and help them find additional guidance or support they need.”

The complete list of FAQs answered in the guidance includes:

Q:  I need to close my business temporarily due to an order from the Governor or due to health and safety concerns.  Do I have to keep paying my employees?

Q:  One of my employees has notified me that they traveled to Europe last week.  They reported that they do not currently have any COVID-19 symptoms and would like to return to work in order to continue to earn money.  Can I prevent them from returning to the workplace?

Q:  What if an employee is unable to work their normal schedule due to having to attend to childcare obligations while schools are closed? What are my rights as an employee and obligations as an employer concerning a flexible work arrangement and paid or unpaid leave time?

Q:  I have a low-grade fever, but my primary care physician is unable to get me tested for COVID-19 at this time.  Must I continue to attend work?

Q: I tested positive for coronavirus and have to remain home under doctor’s orders.  My employer has let me know they don’t believe they can continue to employ me due to health and safety concerns.  Is this legal?

Q: I have been experiencing harassment at work, either from customers, co-workers or my managers and supervisors because of a fear that I have the coronavirus.  What can I do?

A copy of the guidance is available here.