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Legal Eagle
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I have a question regarding job safety. I work for the DMV

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I have a question regarding job safety. I work for the DMV (CA state). As this coronavirus is getting worse, we're still open because we're "essential". I'm not sure what is essential since the Gov gave 60 days extension on expired license/registration and the President pushed the REAL ID for another year. Employees are testing postive and it's kept quiet. A deep cleaning is done and back open the next day. The 6' social distancing is more like 2' between the public and between coworkers side-by-side. We are deemed risk level "medium" with OSHA because the lack of social distancing and the level of contact. We talk to people from around the world, we touch their documents. We are highly exposed, but yet we don't have a physical barrier in case they cough, sneeze, or spit (by accidents - usually from elderly). The public looks at the DMV as an opportunity to go since the lines would be short instead of practicing social distancing and their own protection. The union has been called but nothing has happened. They skirt around the # of people in a room, don't wipe down touch screen devices or matter of fact do a deep cleaning, and now employees are testing positive. They said appointments only, but that's still over 100 people in a day. Do we have anyway to protect ourselves? We're sitting ducks at this time. Our friends/families/coworkers are all at risk.
JA: Have you discussed this workplace safety issue with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: This has been addressed with managers. This has gone public on the news w/o return calls. Everyone is just waiting..
JA: Are you an "at will" employee? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: Yes and yes with union.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No. Thanks

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Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Thank you

Thanks so much. Bear with me while I type up my response. It’ll be just a few moments.

Thanks for your assistance.

So generally, the law doesn't specifically allow you to work from home, refuse to come into work, or order some accommodations and keep your job.

This means that if you are to come in, the law requires the DMV to abide by CAL/OSHA standards.

OSHA standards place a duty on all employers to furnish a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm (https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/oshact/section5-duties). Where necessary, an employer must also furnish personal protective equipment to employees when there is a hazard that could cause physical damage (https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.132). It is the reason why nurses have virtually unlimited access to gloves, but software engineers do not. The law does not specifically say an employer must provide absolute safety, but they cannot put employees at unreasonable risk. The risk of harm in a typical office setting is lower, but if employees are working in a position where the risk of catching COVID-19 is high, the employer should either clear out the premises or provide the necessary equipment to the employees. Workers can file a complaint if there is an issue with a specific safety standard by clicking the link below:

https://www.osha.gov/workers/file_complaint.html

Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Thank you for the information. I appreciate it.

The pleasure is all mine!

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