Charlotte employment attorney says workers need more pandemic protections

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte employment attorney says there are not enough protections for workers during the pandemic, and the strongest ones we have are expiring at the end of December.

Josh Van Kampen talked to Eyewitness News anchor Brittney Johnson about the biggest safety concerns people are facing on the job and what to do if you think your job is putting you at risk.

Van Kampen says about half the calls his office receives are COVID-19-related. He says at first people were complaining about the lack of PPE and safety measures, but now most calls are from people who worry employers are being secretive about COVID-19 exposure and people testing positive.

“I’m getting a lot of calls now about people finding out through the grapevine that a coworker tested positive for COVID and the employer isn’t telling them anything. And that is insidious, because then those coworkers are going home to their families, they’re seeing their grandparents or their elderly parents unaware. And that’s because the employer doesn’t want them to be aware. And to me, that’s that’s criminal,” Van Kampen said.

He says people should know that federal and state laws protect whistleblowers.

Van Kampen recommends you take your concerns to your company’s ethics line or CEO or Department of Labor and document it. He says if they still fire you, you could have a legal claim.

Van Kampen is trying to help people navigate these issues. His firm has a blog and podcast to help people understand their rights.

He also says he’s worried that federal laws passed in April to protect people who have to take leave because they have COVID-19 or because schools were closed will expire at the end of December.

He says they need to be extended and expanded to include more workers.

Click here for his podcast, and learn more about his website blog here.