COVID-19 Protections for Health Care Workers

Although COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is fundamentally a global public health crisis, it also has serious implications for healthcare workers all over the country.

Due to the essential nature of their services, many health care workers experience the greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19 and must continue to work under dangerous and acutely stressful conditions.  If you are a licensed or certified health care worker facing retaliation because you raised concerns about your employer’s response to COVID-19, there are laws in place to protect you from this retaliation.

COVID-19 Lawyers Serving the Washington D.C. Area

Protections under Maryland law

For example, under current Maryland law, a health care employer may not take or refuse to take any personnel action as reprisal against an employee because the employee:

  • Discloses or threatened to disclose to a supervisor or board an activity, policy, or practice of the employer that is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation;
  • Provides information to or testifies before any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into any violation of a law, rule, or regulation by the employer; or
  • Objects to or refuses to participate in any activity, policy, or practice in violation of a law, rule or regulation.

Maryland employees are protected when the following steps have been undertaken to report violations of health care rules or laws concerning health and safety:  the employee has a reasonable, good faith belief that the employer has, or still is, engaged in an activity, policy, or practice that is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation; the employer’s activity, policy, or practice poses a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety; and the employee has reported the activity, policy, or practice to a supervisor or administrator of the employer in writing and afforded the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the activity, policy, or practice; or you have followed your employer’s corporate compliance plan for such notifications.

Protections under the Occupational Safety and Health Act

The Occupational Safety and Health Act protects employees from retaliation for reporting or opposing wrongful, illegal, or unsafe workplace practices, such as failure to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).  Retaliatory acts may include terminations, demotions, denials of overtime or promotions, reduction in pay or hours, discipline, intimidation, harassment, or threats, among other adverse actions.  It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for submitting a complaint regarding dangerous working conditions.

Employees who believe they have been retaliated against for complaining about an unsafe work environment, must submit your complaint to OSHA within 30 days of the retaliatory act.  Employees may submit a complaint online or call or email their local OSHA office.  OSHA may find the employer unlawfully retaliated against you if its investigation concludes that the employee engaged in protected activity; the employer knew about or suspected the protected activity; the employer took an adverse employment action; and the protected activity motivated or contributed to the adverse employment action.

The OSH Act also protects employees’ rights to refuse to perform dangerous work if all of the following conditions are met:

  • If the employee asked the employer to eliminate the danger and the employer failed to do so;
  • The employee genuinely believes that an imminent danger exists;
  • A reasonable person would agree that there is a real danger of death or serious injury; and
  • Due to the urgency of the risk, there isn’t enough time to have the danger corrected by regular enforcement methods such as requesting an OSHA inspection.

OSHA recommends that employees take the following steps if they feel they must refuse to perform a task due to safety concerns:

  • Ask the employer to correct the hazard or assign a different task;
  • Tell the employer you will not perform the task unless the hazard is corrected; and
  • Remain at work until your employer instructs you to leave.

Some states have their own OSHA-approved workplace safety plans called “State Plans.” If you work in one of the 22 states with an OSHA-approved plan, including Maryland and Virginia, it may provide greater protections than the federal law.

The lawyers at Correia & Puth, PLLC are committed to ensuring that health care employees are protected when they take a stand for workplace safety and hold employers accountable for wrongdoing, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.  If you are aware of wrongful workplace conduct, or if you fear or have experienced workplace retaliation because of your reports, please contact us right away to discuss how best to navigate the issues and to protect against unlawful retaliation.

Practice Areas

Accommodations for Disabilities

We are committed to ensuring that all employees with disabilities have equal access to the workplace.


Age Discrimination

We fight employers who use age bias to discourage older workers from staying on the job or keep them from advancement.


Corporate Accountability

Corporations must be held accountable for wrongdoing, and whistleblowers often keep employers honest.


COVID-19 Protections for Health Workers

If you are a health care worker facing retaliation because you raised concerns, there are laws in place to protect you.


Disability Discrimination

We are dedicated to safeguarding the rights of individuals with disabilities and vigorously advocate for equal access.


Equal Pay Rights

Motivated by our commitment to workplace fairness, we fight employers who have shortchanged an employee because of bias.


Family & Medical Leave Discrimination

The FMLA provides job protected leave so that employees are not forced to choose between their job and caring for loved ones.


Family Responsibilities Discrimination

Employees should not be penalized for taking care of their loved ones, and we are committed to fighting for your rights.


Federal Employees

We help federal sector employees understand workplace rights and navigate the unique federal agency employment context.


Federal Employee Whistleblower Protections

Employees and contractors of the federal government have strong protections from retaliation for speaking out.


Gender Identity Discrimination

We believe no employee should face harassment, discrimination, or retaliation because of who they are or how they identify.


National Origin Discrimination

We believe all employees should be given a fair chance to succeed regardless of their culture and background.


Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy and motherhood are not incompatible with work. Our firm fights for expecting mothers and mothers with newborns.


Race Discrimination

Employers are forbidden from making decisions to hire, fire, promote, or to provide training or other benefits because of a person’s race.


Religious Discrimination

We value individuals' religious beliefs and personal choices and are committed to ensuring the ability to practice without fear.



We believe that employees should be able to assert their legal rights without risking their livelihoods.


Severance Agreements

Our practice of negotiating severance agreements is built upon years of experience working on behalf of employees at all levels.


Sex Discrimination

We work to eliminate gender discrimination, unfair pay, sexual harassment, and unlawful glass ceilings.


Sexual Harassment

We are dedicated advocates for the right to a workplace free from a sexually hostile work environment.


Sexual Orientation Discrimination

We believe that no employee should be fired, shortchanged, or treated differently because of who they are and whom they love.


Title IX Claims

We are a national leader on use of Title IX as an effective tool for an educational environment free from discrimination and retaliation.


Veterans (USERRA)

USERRA provides job protections to employees who temporarily leave private employment for military service.


Wage & Commission Claims

We fight employers who have wrongfully withheld salaries, commissions, and wages, and hold them accountable for what's unpaid.


Whistleblower Retaliation

Employees should be free from intimidation, harassment, or threats when taking a stand against wrong or unsafe workplaces.

It takes courage to fight back against those who discriminate.
Contact us to see how we can help you.