U.S. Senator Tina Smith Introduces Bill to Protect Quarantined Workers From Being Fired or Punished by Employers Amid Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, D.C. [03/12/20]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) introduced 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.

While President Trump touched on providing financial relief for workers during an address from the Oval Office yesterday evening, Sen. Smith believes 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. Sen. Smith also supports additional measures that would provide paid sick leave to affected workers. 

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

“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 Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee. “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.”

“We should do all we can to provide some peace of mind to workers and families who are grappling with the coronavirus outbreak,” said Sen. Bennet. “This bill protects workers’ economic security and public health.” 

“Employees should not be fired for being in quarantine or medical isolation,” said Sen. 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.”

You can access text of the bill here.