COVID-19/Coronavirus – Employment FAQ
DISCLAIMER: As the COVID-19 public health situation evolves, new regulations are being continually issued. This page may not include the most recent information. For up-to-date issuances, visit the Nebraska Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Labor websites.
Unlike Oregon and Maryland, Nebraska law does not protect hourly wage employees who stay home because of the flu. Employers are not required to pay hourly wage employees who cannot work due to illness, disaster, or emergencies.
Federal law does not require employers to pay hourly wage employees who do not work due to a disaster or state of emergency. If you work in agriculture and have questions about your employment rights, call 877-250-2016 press 7 or apply online at legalaidofnebraska.org.
Below you can find some frequently asked questions about employment and illness.This FAQ was adapted from Coronavirus – Frequently Asked Questions, Legal Aid at Work (last visited Mar. 12, 2020), https://legalaidatwork.org/factsheet/coronavirus-faq/.
My employer closed my workplace temporarily because of the coronavirus and is forcing employees to take unpaid leave. What can I do?
You may file a claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits with the Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL). To get benefits you only need to meet certain minimum requirements, including having sufficient past earnings and an immigration status that allows you to work. For more information about Unemployment Insurance benefits, including eligibility requirements and how to file a claim, please visit https://www.dol.nebraska.gov/UIBenefits or call 402-458-2500 (English).
Because of coronavirus, my employer made assumptions about me or treated me differently than coworkers because I am Asian or from another country. What can I do?
An employer who treats you worse than other workers because of your race, national origin, or ethnic background is violating the law. This includes employer actions that single you out because of negative stereotypes.
My employer thinks that I have coronavirus and treated me differently because of that. What can I do?
Your employer should not make assumptions about your illness or health condition. You may be able to bring a claim that your employer “regarded” you as having a disability under discrimination laws.
Can my employer ask me if I have a health condition (like a compromised immune system) that would be affected by coronavirus?
No. Your answer to that question is likely to disclose a disability. Therefore, the employer’s question is against the law.
If I have coronavirus, what can my employer tell others about my condition?
Your employer is required to keep all medical information about you private and confidential.
I have coronavirus and am not currently able to work because of my illness. What can I do to receive income while I’m not working?
If you have sick leave, you are entitled to use sick leave if you are missing work because of illness. Your employer should provide you with pay for the accrued sick days you have. There is no Nebraska law that requires private sector employers to provide employees sick leave, paid or unpaid, although many employers do grant it as a popular employee benefit.
Can I lose my job if I miss work because I’m sick with coronavirus?
Your employer cannot retaliate against you for using paid sick days. In addition, you may be entitled to job-protected time off from work for up to 12 weeks. You likely qualify for this leave if all of the following statements apply to you:
- You work for an employer with at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite;
- you have worked there for at least a year, and
- you worked at least 1250 hours in the year before you take time off.