If I Can Work From Home, Can My Employer Force Me to Return to Work Under the Governor’s Executive Order?

September 14th, 2020

man at homeThe COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, yet Minnesota businesses are slowing reopening around the state, and employees are being asked to return to their offices. This has created growing tensions, as employers want to ensure their businesses remain viable, while employees still fear the disease. Many employees are left in an uncomfortable predicament—caught between keeping their jobs or speaking out and risk losing their livelihood in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic.

This growing tension has sparked complaints from employees who report that they fear retaliation for speaking out. Minnesota Public Radio recently found that more than half of the workplace safety complaints filed this year with the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration are related to COVID-19, while the Minnesota Department of Human Rights received approximately 174 complaints of possible violations of Governor Walz’s Executive Orders.

While Governor Walz’s Executive Orders have loosened significantly over the last few months, under the current Executive Orders, if employees can work from home, they must do so. Any employee who can effectively perform their job from home must be permitted to continue to do so and should not be required to return to work at the employer’s physical location.

What Can I Do?

If your employer has directed you to work in violation of an Executive Order, you have a right to inform your employer that it is a violation of the Executive Order for you to report to work at the employer’s physical location. Under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for reporting a violation or suspected violation of law, which includes the Governor’s Executive Orders. It is also a violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act for an employer to retaliate against an employee for refusing an employer’s order to perform an action that the employee reasonably believes violates a law. If your employer retaliates or takes adverse employment action against you for reporting the law violation or refusing to perform an action that violates the law, you may be entitled to damages or other relief from your employer.

Contact Halunen Law

During these continued uncertain times, you need a strong team in your corner to fight for your rights. Halunen Law is committed to ensuring that your employment rights are protected. Contact Halunen Law to speak with an experienced employment law attorney today.

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