March 12, 2020

Van Hollen, Smith Introduce Bill to Protect Quarantined Workers from Being Fired or Punished by Employers Amid Coronavirus

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) in introducing legislation to prohibit employers from firing, punishing or otherwise discriminating against a worker who is quarantined or isolated – or who is caring for a family member in quarantine or isolation – amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Employees should not be fired for being in quarantine or medical isolation,” said Senator Van Hollen. “As the nation confronts a public health emergency, we must give workers the protection they need to follow medical guidelines and prevent the spread of disease to others.”

While President Trump touched on providing financial relief for workers during an address from the Oval Office yesterday evening, the Senators believe workers need a clear set of federal rules so Americans are reassured and more likely to follow quarantine or isolation recommendations if they know they’ll still have their jobs and won’t get fired for doing so. Senator Van Hollen has also cosponsored additional legislation that would provide emergency paid sick leave to affected workers as well as legislation that would expand telework opportunities for federal employees.

“Right now, Minnesota and our nation need steady leadership and accurate information amid the coronavirus outbreak. Workers are more likely to take needed time away from work if they no longer have to worry about their employer retaliating against them for being quarantined or isolating themselves. I want to take away concerns about job losses and provide clear protections for workers because we need to do everything we can to lessen the fears in peoples’ minds,” said Senator Smith. “Unfortunately, only a limited number of states have laws that prohibit employers from firing or retaliating against quarantined workers. My bill—based on Minnesota state law—would provide clear protections nationwide. Congress should pass it as soon as possible.”

This legislation is also supported by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

The full text of the bill is available here.