The COVID-19 health crisis is having an impact on wrongful termination cases in several key ways.
First, unscrupulous employers are using the current situation as an excuse to wrongfully terminate good employees for unlawful reasons, and to disguise the termination as part of a COVID-19 layoff. If an employer making legitimate layoffs selects certain employees for layoff because of their age, race, disability, or another one of the protected categories, such as whistleblowers, then this is an illegal termination.
In addition, a wrongfully terminated employee may have great difficulty finding a new job during this period, or a may have to take a lower paying or less desirable position. In that case, the amount of money that may be recovered for lost wages and even emotional distress will be increased. Just because it may be difficult to find work during this period, wrongfully terminated employees must still make all reasonable efforts to find new work, which is referred to as mitigation of damages.
There has also been an increase in whistleblower lawsuits related to COVID-19. If a worker reports unsafe working conditions, or the failure of the employer to provide a clean and sanitary workplace, observing all best practices for social distancing and mask wearing, and is then terminated in retaliation, this is an unlawful termination.