My partner is in a difficult situation with their job and we are not sure how to handle it. We live in a state that has ordered all non-essential services to shut down. The CEO of my partner's company is insisting that they are an essential service, that business will continue as usual, and is actively resisting taking any steps to mitigate the COVID-19 risks.
The specific work this company does is not at all essential, but is in an industry with some essential businesses, which I think technically makes their continued operation legal. Much of the work could be done remotely, but the company is not even trying to transition to that. Anyone who wishes to take time off must use their regular PTO. The employees have been pointedly reminded that any time off they take beyond their normally allowed PTO will result in being disciplined and/or fired.
There are some other specific actions the company has taken that seem very wrong to me, but I'm not sure if they are technically illegal and do not know if we have any recourse. A few examples:
- An employee showed up noticebly ill and mentioned their entire family was sick. This employee was allowed to work in the office for hours before being sent home.
- Employees who worked with the sick employee were told to not tell anyone else someone had been in office sick. The executive management wants as few people as possible to know about the exposure, lest the employees get more concerned about the virus.
- An employee sent out a company wide email that a major client was shutting down all of their offices. This kind of announcement affects a lot of people's work and notifying everyone of a development such as this would normally be standard procedure. In this case however, the employee was reprimanded by an executive and told to suppress similar information going forward.
- Cleaning and sanitation supplies in the office are minimal, and the little they have is dwindling. My partner is bringing their own supplies from home.
We both think that the company is behaving unethically and irresponsibly, but our research hasn't turned up anything showing the companies actions as illegal. Given that, I'm not sure what leverage we might have to change the situation. My partner does not want to lose their job at the start of a recession, but is getting pretty fed up with this company. Any advice would be much appreciated.
Edit in response to Tymoteusz Paul's comment asking what specifically we're looking to achieve. I'd be happy with help achieving any of the following:
- IANAL. Any pointers to legal resources we might not have found would be appreciated.
- Convincing management to move some or all of the employees to remote would be an improvement.
- Management allowing employees to take extended paid or unpaid time off would also be helpful.