January 30, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 30


January 27, 2023

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Plaintiff Alleges Wrongful Termination While Hospitalized For COVID-19

Now in its 28th week, the Barnes & Thornburg Wage and Hour Practice Group’s COVID-19 related workplace litigation tracker summarizes 578 complaints filed across the United States in 12 different categories. This week’s spotlight is on a case representing two trends that have become familiar in COVID-19 related workplace complaints: plaintiffs alleging a wrongful termination connected to COVID-19, and pairing unrelated wage and hour allegations with COVID-19 claims.

In Rendon v. South Dade Chamber of Commerce, Inc., the plaintiff alleges she was wrongfully terminated while she was hospitalized for COVID-19, and also alleges wage and hour violations in connection with unpaid overtime.

The complaint states that the plaintiff contracted COVID-19 and was also diagnosed with multifocal pneumonia. According to the plaintiff, she became critically ill and was hospitalized, and was intubated from March 23 until April 6.  She was discharged from the hospital on April 13 to continue her recovery at home. The plaintiff alleges that while she was hospitalized, she and her family kept her employer updated on her condition. However, according to the complaint, the defendant terminated the plaintiff’s employment “on or about March 27, 2020 while she was intubated and critically ill.”  In response, the plaintiff brought suit under the EPSLA and the FFCRA.

Unrelated to the COVID-19 claims, the plaintiff also sued the defendant under the FLSA for allegedly failing to pay her for overtime hours which she allegedly worked. Also unrelated to her COVID-19 claims, the plaintiff alleges that she regularly worked more than 40 hours per week, including participating in “numerous events organized by” her employer, but that she was not paid overtime for all such hours.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the sad reality is that employers will continue facing employees who contract COVID-19 and become ill. Moreover, we predict that plaintiffs will continue to bring wage and hour claims alongside COVID-19 allegations, increasing the financial exposure for employers. 

Employers would do well to review their compensation and timekeeping policies, as well as their policies and practices for employee sick leave, to be sure they are in compliance. When in doubt, seek guidance from your labor and employment attorney. We will continue to track these trends as they unfold, and will continue to update the tracker each week. As always, stay tuned.

© 2023 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 318

About this Author

Peter J. Wozniak Barnes Thornburg Chicago  Labor Employment

Pete Wozniak is a vigorous advocate who strives to help his clients navigate issues that can be fraught with challenges as painlessly and efficiently as possible. He is a candid and personable counselor, offering his clients direct advice by leveraging his deep experience performing a broad range of outcome critical functions for complex labor and employment matters.

Pete represents clients across a number of industries, including transportation and logistics, restaurants, retail, manufacturing, and temporary staffing. Handling a number of high profile matters, he identifies the...

Mark Wallin, Attorney, BT, Chicago, Labor Employment
Of Counsel

In order to provide the best counsel, Mark Wallin believes it is his role to understand his clients’ business needs so he can help them determine what resolution will provide the most benefit. His keen ability to understand his clients’ practical concerns allows him to advise on the best path to successfully resolve issues – whether through traditional litigation or negotiated resolution.

In the course of his practice, Mark has focused on providing the highest-level of service to his clients and building long-term relationships. Specifically, he defends employers in a wide range of...

Anthony Glenn Employment lawyer Barnes Thornburg

Anthony K. Glenn is an associate in Barnes & Thornburg's Indianapolis office and is a member of the Labor and Employment Law Department.

Anthony has experience counseling clients on a number of issues concerning both traditional labor and employment law, such as termination decisions, medical leave management, disability accommodation, workplace discrimination, and wage and hour issues, as well as union avoidance and management of a collective bargaining relationship. He also has experience with the litigation process in federal and state employment agencies...