Frequently Asked Questions
Special thanks to Lawrence Morales II, of the The Morales Firm, P.C.
Table of Contents
Most Frequently Asked Questions
Employee Rights’Government Employer
Wrongful termination, discrimination (gender, race, ethnicity, etc.), sexual harassment, unemployment compensation, unpaid wages
Employee Rights’ Private Employer
Wrongful termination, discrimination (gender, race, ethnicity, etc.), sexual harassment, unemployment compensation, unpaid wages.
Benefits and Pensions
Employee entitlement to benefits and pensiions, workers' compensation
Employer Protection and Defense
Workplace safety, subject to collective bargaining
1. During the COVID-19 pandemic, can my employer take my temperature before permitting me to come into the workplace?
Although temperature checks are generally an overly broad medical exam under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (because the exam is not “job-related and consistent with business necessity”), the EEOC issued updated guidance specifically concerning COVID-19 and the ADA. During the pandemic, the EEOC permits employers to monitor employees’ temperature and take other steps to monitor employee health, including screening questionnaires, limitations on non-essential travel, encouragement to work from home, emphasis on handwashing
2. What can I do if my employer says I am an essential worker, but I do not think I am?
In San Antonio, you can call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 210-207-SAPD to report a business that is not following the City’s stay home order. Other cities and counties will have their own reporting programs.
3. Can I apply for unemployment benefits if I am laid off due to COVID-19?
Yes! The Texas Workforce Commission has waived the normal one-week waiting period for applying for benefits for claimants affected by COVID-19. The TWC is also waiving the work search requirements for all claimants. You may also be entitled to extended unemployment benefits under the federal stimulus bill. The TWC is currently overwhelmed with phone calls and online applications, so if you are having trouble getting through TWC recommends applying through its online portal between 10 pm and 8 am.
4. If I have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or think I might have it, can I take paid sick leave?
Maybe. If you are taking sick leave because you are unable to work or telework due to a need for leave because you (1) are subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; (2) have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or (3) are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking medical diagnosis, you might be eligible for two weeks of mandatory pay under the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. For more information about your eligibility and entitlements, the Department of Labor offers extensive guidance on its website.
5. If my child’s school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19, am I eligible for paid leave?
Maybe. Depending on the size of your company, you may be eligible for both paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for up to twelve weeks. For more information about your eligibility and entitlements, the Department of Labor offers extensive guidance on its website.
6. I am self-employed. Am I entitled to any governmental relief?
Maybe. Although self-employed individuals are generally not entitled to unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for a Disaster Unemployment Payment thought the Texas Workforce Commission. You can find more information about applying for benefits through the TWC.
7. If my workplace is closed because of a government stay home order, does my company need to pay me under the new federal sick leave law?
Generally, no. Although the emergency paid sick leave law does provide for paid leave when an employee is unable to work because of a government isolation order, the federal government has taken a narrow interpretation of this law. The Department of Labor has explained that if your workplace is closed because of a stay home order, you are unable to work because your workplace was subject to the order, not because you are subject to the order. Generally, then, it is unlikely your company will have to pay you if your office or worksite is ordered closed by the government.
8. What’s the difference between a furlough and a lay off? Do my rights change?
Furloughs are temporary reductions in pay and hours, but you remain employed. Depending on the terms of your benefits plans, you might be entitled to continued health insurance and other benefits if you are furloughed. A layoff, on the other hand, is a loss of employment on a temporary or permanent basis and your benefits (other than benefit continuation required by law) will probably stop. You might be eligible for unemployment benefits under either a furlough or a layoff.
9. I am an essential worker in San Antonio and I still need to go into work. Does my workplace have to provide me with a mask?
If you work in San Antonio, as of April 20, 2020, your company must provide you with face coverings and training for appropriate use if you work in an area or activity that will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public.
10. How can I find out more information?
The CDC has in depth information on how to keep yourself healthy and what to do if you get sick. The Department of Labor has many employment-related resources. The Texas Workforce Commission has information about unemployment benefits and how to apply for them. If you believe your rights at work have been violated due the pandemic, contact a local employment attorney for additional information.