Philadelphia Law Protects Workers Calling Out Unsafe COVID Conditions

With Pennsylvania entering “green” conditions, i.e. a reopening of businesses and public spaces, there is growing concern that public health measures will not be enough to guarantee safety from COVID-19. As always, the public relies on workers to keep their employees accountable in order to ensure businesses are obeying the law with regard to coronavirus measures. 

Which is why Philadelphia has passed a law allowing workers to voice concerns without fear. 

Philadelphia City Council passed a new ordinance protecting workers who report workplaces with unsafe COVID practices. The law, titled the “Essential Workers Protection Act,” shields workers in healthcare, food serve, public transit, and hospitality from retaliation from employers for speaking up about conditions that might expose workers to COVID-19. 

There is also protection for any workers who voice concerns about conditions that violate public health orders issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health or the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Protections include protection from:

  • Reduced pay
  • Adverse change in work schedule
  • Firing
  • Threats pertaining to immigration status

Employers who take illegal action against workers who voice concerns about public health will be liable for damages of $100 to $1,000 for every day the violation occurs. The court will then be able to award the employee reinstatement, restitution, and attorney’s fees. 

Philadelphia is the first city in the nation to pass a law that lets a city install measures to ensure compliance with state and local health guidelines on the part of businesses. The newly created Philadelphia Department of Labor will be responsible for enforcing the Essential Workers Protection Act. 

With Philadelphia taking steps to protect workers from occupational illnesses—specifically coronavirus—it may not be long before other cities follow suit.

If you are ill or injured due to unsafe work conditions, speak with our Harrisburg work injury lawyers today to learn your recovery options.


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