The New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Civil Rights has issued GUIDANCE surrounding the COVID-19 virus and its potential impact on discrimination and the use of job protected leave. In the guidance, employers are reminded that they are prohibited from terminating an employee because they suspect that the employee could have contracted COVID-19, even if the employee turns out to be healthy. Such action would be inconsistent with, and potentially in violation of, the State’s Law Against Discrimination as the employer’s action may be deemed as taking an action because of a perceived disability. In that same vein, employers should be aware of their duty to take reasonable action to cure any harassing conduct an employee may face that is related to the COVID-19 virus.
For purposes of job protected leave, the guidance makes clear that a diagnosis of COVID-19 meets the state’s family medical leave law definition of “serious health condition,” thereby enabling an employee take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for themselves or a family member, subject to certain conditions. And finally, the guidance emphasizes that employees may be able to use any accrued Earned Sick Time to care for a healthy child whose school or daycare has been closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.