This reviews your rights under federal law. Always check with your local and state associations for assistance in enforcing these rights and about additional rights you may have under state laws, collective bargaining agreements or memorandums of understanding with the employer, or policies.
BY ALICE O’BRIEN, NEA GENERAL COUNSEL
Q: CAN MY SCHOOL INSULATE ITSELF FROM LIABILITY BY FORCING ME TO SIGN A DOCUMENT WAIVING MY LEGAL REMEDIES I MIGHT HAVE IF I CONTRACT COVID-19 ON THE JOB?
Some schools have reportedly asked educators to sign documents waiving any rights they have against the school based on exposure to COVID-19. These waivers are not enforceable for several reasons. First, employees cannot be asked to waive their rights under the workers’ compensation laws, which would likely be their main source of recovery for contracting COVID-19 at work. Second, to the extent the school has an obligation under occupational health laws to maintain a safe workplace, that duty cannot be waived. Third, tenured teachers generally cannot be disciplined or fired for refusing a demand to decrease their workplace protections. Fourth, in states with collective bargaining for school employees, schools cannot unilaterally change educators’ working conditions without bargaining with the union.
You can use this visual aid to assist you in helping members find economic relief if they are losing pay in this crisis. The chart was designed by two allied organizations, National Employment Law Project and Family Values @ Work.
Sample language for COVID crisis Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was developed by our colleagues in Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy at NEA. The attached sample has language for teachers and ESP.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.