Legal Lens: Can you be fired for missing too much work due to COVID?

Legal Lens

The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – Dealing with COVID is bad enough, but missing work and getting fired because of missed time would be another level of stress and hardship. We wanted to know: can you be fired for missing too many days due to COVID-related symptoms?

“It is scary and it’s not that extreme now, but—technically—yes,” said Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen. “Missouri is an at-will state. You can be fired for any reason or no reason, except a protected reason like race, religion, gender, things like that. So, yes, unless it’s a protected reason, you can be fired.

Are there any protections or exceptions?

“Yes…protections for those with a disability. What we have seen is some of those people with COVID have developed into long haulers,” McNairy said. “People have sought disability protection. and received them due to COVID.”

McNairy has advice for people facing this situation.

“I was hard pressed to find cases on this and I think that’s because there has been an appreciation in the workplace for this,” she said. “My best advice is communication. There have been some reimbursements to employers for sick time, OT time for the vaccine. Communication is key.”

Does McNairy foresee any bills in states to protect people moving forward?

“Yes, there has been a bill introduced in Missouri moving forward…which provided some protection for people suffering from COVID, and guidelines for employers for people having to take leave of work due to COVID,” she said.

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