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Restaurant Employee Rights: What to Know About Workplace Safety and the Coronavirus

In order to control the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the physical locations of non-essential businesses have been temporarily closed in Connecticut. As essential businesses, restaurants are allowed to remain open during the public health crisis—however, they have been required to close their dining rooms and to shift to take-out/delivery services. 

Restaurant workers deserve a safe and fair workplace. Connecticut state regulators have published ‘Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers’, including restaurant workers to deal with the pandemic. Here, our Hartford restaurant employee rights lawyers provide an overview of the state’s COVID-19 workplace safety guidelines and we explain your right to raise a complaint. 

Keeping the Restaurant Safe During COVID-19: Four Key Guidelines for the Workplace

1. If Possible, Work From Home is Required

First and foremost, Connecticut regulators remind employers that essential employees should be working from whenever it is possible. Of course, in the restaurant industry, remote work is generally not feasible. Still, any tasks that can be done off-site should be done at-home. Employee time in the physical workplace must be limited. 

2. Employees Should Wear Masks or Facial Coverings

When in the restaurant, Connecticut requires workers to wear masks or cloth facial coverings. Employers should provide masks whenever possible. If they cannot do so because of a shortage, they should give employees access to the CDC’s tutorial on how to create their own cloth facing cover. Note: Connecticut regulators have created an explicit exception for employees whose health would be impaired by wearing a mask. 

3. Employers Should Develop Reasonable Social Distancing Practices

State officials are also encouraging employers to develop social distancing policies for their individual workplace. A restaurant setting—particularly in the back of the house or in the kitchen—can be a tight fit. Hartford employers should get creative and develop a workplace social distancing policy that limits close contact between employees. 

4. Soap & Water and/or Hand Sanitizer Should Be Available

Finally, employers should provide employers with regular access to soap & water and/or hand sanitizer. Companies are also strongly encouraged to sanitize workspaces to limit any possible spread of the virus.  

Know Your Rights: Restaurant Workers Can Raise Complaints and Report Safety Violations

You can raise a complaint—either formally or informally—about the conditions in your workplace. Indeed, restaurant workers in Connecticut can complain about workplace safety issues and/or report legal violations without facing any type of retribution from their employer. 
State and federal regulations prohibit employers from taking adverse action against employees who have exercised their rights. If you were terminated, demoted, or otherwise punished for complaining about workplace safety in your restaurant during the COVID-19 outbreak, contact an experienced Hartford employer retaliation lawyer for immediate assistance. 

Contact Our Hartford Restaurant Employee Rights Attorneys Today

At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC, our Connecticut employment lawyers have the skills, knowledge, and experience to protect your rights. If you or your loved one is a restaurant worker with questions about retaliation, we can help. 
For a strictly confidential consultation, please contact our law firm right away. We represent employees throughout Hartford County, including in Hartford, New Britain, Manchester, Bristol, West Hartford, Enfield, Glastonbury, and Southington. Call (860) 522-8888