Partner Andrew Kimler was invited to answer an employment law question in the "Ask the Expert" column of In View, the bi-weekly publication of the New York Society of Association Executives.
Founded in 1919, NYSAE is the "association of associations" which are headquartered in New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. NYSAE's 3500 members are chief executives, C-suite, and other managers of trade associations, professional societies, voluntary and nonprofit organizations, and supplier firms.
Q: I work for an association headquartered in New York City. I know we’re not going back yet but I’m already nervous about when that will be. I don’t want to take public transportation and I’m scared I’ll catch COVID and bring it home to my family. Can my company fire me if I insist on working remotely? What can I do?
A: Unfortunately, while your fears are understandable, you aren’t legally protected from being fired if you insist on working remotely. An exception could be if you can demonstrate a specific medical reason for not coming in, such as cancer or an organ transplant which weaken your immune system, in which case you’d be within your legal rights asking for an accommodation to work remotely. Keep in mind that if you’re fired for refusing to come to work, you wouldn’t be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits.
Andrew A. Kimler is a partner at Vishnick McGovern Milizio LLP. He heads the Employment Law, Commercial Litigation, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Practices, and is a key member of the LGBTQ Representation Practice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 516.437.4385 x122.
This column was originally published in In View, distributed digitally on June 23, 2020. The original can be read here.