Fired For No COVID Shot?

Can your boss fire you if you do not get a COVID shot? Can a landlord evict you if you are traveling to treat COVID patients? More answers to your COVID-related questions in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Samantha and Devin are nurses treating COVID patients. It’s been tough.

Samantha Seepaul: “And it hurts me, because these patients are scared, and I’m worried for them. It’s such a stressful job for everybody all around.”

Devin and Samantha are also engaged and planning their future, which includes saving to buy a house, so they hit the road and became travel nurses.

Devin Ellis: “If you are a staff nurse, you basically get paid anywhere from half to a fourth of the amount of a traveling nurse, and you get paid to do the same exact job.”

Right now, they are in North Carolina, but their headache is coming from South Florida, after their landlord found out they were out of town for a few weeks.

Devin Ellis: “She says that, ‘Oh, you didn’t tell me, and I’m the landlord, so that constitutes grounds for me to terminate your lease. You have 10 days to get out.'”

They were surprised, since their lease doesn’t expire for a year, they always pay their rent on time, and Devin’s parents stop by to check on the rental every couple of days.

Samantha Seepaul: “We have aquatic babies there. We have fish; they’re feeding them every time they’re there. They’re turning on the lights, making sure the AC is on.”

Didn’t matter. Their landlord said…

Devin Ellis: “‘I don’t want my home vacant, and so I’m going to terminate the lease.'”

Which made no sense to Devin and Samantha.

Devin Ellis: “It just seems preposterous to me that she would try to do this to us.”

Samantha Seepaul: “I feel that this is bullying.”

Samantha calls it bullying. Howard, do you call it legal to evict traveling nurses because they are out of town and their rental is empty for a few weeks?

Howard Finkelstein: “No, you cannot evict someone with a lease simply because they travel. Whether it’s nurses traveling to work or someone going on a lot of vacations, if they pay the rent, it’s their apartment to use or not to use.”

Devin and Samantha can pay the rent. Some people who have lost their jobs because of COVID cannot pay the rent. Are they facing eviction?

Howard Finkelstein: “Possibly, Patrick, but if you fill out the federal form, you can halt the eviction till June 30, and remember, counties are getting a lot of federal money to help people pay rent and avoid eviction, so contact the county. The links for all of that are under this Help Me Howard story.”

On to the vaccine. Can your boss require you to get the COVID shots?

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, and if you don’t get it, they can fire you. The only exception: if you have a disability or a sincerely held religious belief.”

A school in Miami is threatening to fire staff if they get a COVID shot. Can they do that?

Howard Finkelstein: “No, I do not believe they can fire you, because federal law requires employers to provide a safe work environment, and the CDC requires vaccinations in order for it to be a safe environment.”

The legislature and the governor have said businesses cannot require customers to prove they have been vaccinated to come into the store or a sporting event. Howard, can the government tell a private business what to do?

Howard Finkelstein: “I don’t think they can, but I cannot say that definitely because there has never been a case on something like the COVID vaccine, so there is no law on it — yet.

Devin and Samantha will have a place to come home to since their landlord cannot evict them. Come home hopefully to less stress than COVID has brought.

Devin Ellis: “It’s a lot to manage sometimes, when you’re taking care of six patients, and anything can go wrong at any moment, but when patients get better, it’s always a great day.”

The medical staffs who cared for patients and got America through COVID will be remembered as amazing heroes. Bless ’em all.

Howard Finkelstein: “Now, if you have a problem and need some help, get in touch with us. We are always here for you.”

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

LINKS TO APPLY FOR RENT RELIEF:
https://www.broward.org/RentAssistance/Pages/default.aspx
https://www.miamidade.gov/global/initiatives/coronavirus/assistance/housing.page

And if the county website says they don’t have money at the moment, keep checking in case more money becomes available.

Here are the links to try to block an eviction if COVID has cost you your job. Make sure you give the form to your landlord and notify the judge.

English: https://www.miamidade.gov/information/library/cdc-eviction-declaration.pdf

Spanish: https://www.miamidade.gov/information/library/cdc-eviction-declaration-spa.pdf

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