On October 22, 2020, the Michigan legislature passed Public Act 238 of 2020, which creates several new protections for employees and is designed to “prohibit an employer from taking certain actions against an employee who does not report to work under certain circumstances related to COVID-19; to prohibit an employee from reporting to work under certain circumstances related to COVID-19; to prohibit discrimination and retaliation for engaging in certain activities; and to provide remedies.”

The law requires employees who test positive for COVID-19 or who display the “principal symptoms” of COVID-19 to stay home from work until (1) the employee goes 24 hours with no fever, (2) ten days have passed since symptom onset or the date of the positive test, whichever is later, and (3) the symptoms have improved. Any employee who simply had close contact (i.e., within six feet and 15 minutes or more) with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 or who displays symptoms of COVID-19 are required to stay home from work for either fourteen days after the close contact or until the individual with whom they had close contact tests negative for COVID-19.  The Act does not require employees be paid for this time, but employers should ensure they are complying with the Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act and the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act, if applicable.

The law further provides that an employer cannot discharge, discipline, or otherwise retaliate against an employee for complying with the Act’s requirements, even if the employee later tests negative for COVID-19.  Importantly, the law provides a private right of action for violations with damages set at a minimum of $5,000.  The law applies to public and private employers and is retroactive to March 1, 2020.

If you would like to know more about these new laws impact your employment situation, please contact attorney Noah Hurwitz by email ([email protected]) or by visiting https://www.nachtlaw.com/attorney/hurwitz-noah-s/.