Commentary & Opinion

Workplace things COVID has not changed: You can still fire dishonest employees

By Jon Hyman

Jun. 22, 2021

Suppose an employee leaves work claiming COVID-like symptoms. He then calls off work for the next two weeks, claiming he is quarantining at home at his doctor’s recommendation.

Can you fire the employee during that quarantine period? Does your opinion change if you learn during the quarantine that the employee’s doctor never recommended the quarantine and the employee lied about receiving that recommendation?

Those are the basic facts of O’Bryan v. Joe Taylor Restoration, and upon which a federal court jury in southern Florida recently entered a verdict in favor of the employer.

O’Bryan’s lawsuit claimed that his employer had denied him paid sick leave under the FFCRA during his quarantine and retaliated against him for seeking paid sick leave. The employer uncovered his dishonesty when it saw a discrepancy between the alleged note ordering the quarantine and a later note authorizing his return to work.
COVID has altered a lot about the workplace. Thankfully, however, the ability of an employer to fire a dishonest employee has not been one of them.
Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at JHyman@Wickenslaw.com.

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