Your legal rights at home, work and at businesses during coronavirus

(WSVN) - So much information, so many new requirements are coming in every day from the various state and federal agencies. Some give you more rights, some take away rights, and some are just downright confusing, which is why we bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

So many of you are calling and emailing Help Me Howard.

Some of you are frightened.

Caller 1: “They thought she had the coronavirus, and the criteria for testing wasn’t even considered.”

Others are out of money.

Caller 2: “I am really concerned ’cause me and my children, we are basically homeless.”

And many of you are desperate for answers to questions that are not being answered.

Caller 3: “Please inform me if there is anything I could do or anything at all. Please, anything will help.”

Howard, so many calls and emails are coming in, so let’s get going.

You go to a business where one of their employees tests positive for the coronavirus. Does the business have to tell the customers?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “They do not have to tell the customers anything, and they have to be careful of what they tell other employees. Due to privacy laws, they can only say, ‘You may have been exposed to the coronavirus.’ If you hear that at work, it probably means a co-worker contracted the disease.”

I heard from a few people who were sent home from work because they felt sick. They’re fine now, but their company won’t let them back until they pass a coronavirus test. However, if you are healthy, you can’t get tested, so how do they get back to work?

Howard Finkelstein: “Many businesses will accept a note from your doctor that you are fine. If your company requires you get a coronavirus test, and you are healthy, you won’t get that test anytime soon.”

People who work in doctor’s offices have called and said they’re are scared. I know they can be fired if they don’t show up, but is a medical facility required to protect their employees from their coronavirus?

Howard Finkelstein: “No, they are not required to provide masks and gloves. They are told to provide a safe environment, but that the law does not mandate masks or gloves.”

Let’s talk about kids. You have paid for your child to go to a day care, but it’s closed. Do you get that money back?

Howard Finkelstein: “It’s simple. You get your money back, or day care adds it to the end of the contract.”

And they are open, but you don’t want to risk dropping your child off. Can you get your money back?

Howard Finkelstein: “No. Even though it’s probably the right thing to do to protect your child, you signed a contract. The law is not about right or wrong; it’s about what you agreed to.”

A lot of gyms deduct monthly fees from your bank account. The gyms are closed, but a few people called and said they’re still deducting the membership fees. Can they do that?

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, they can, because you signed a piece of paper, but because they are closed, you either get your money back or credit for more months, or just tell your bank to cancel the authorization for automatic debits from your account.”

We have heard from a lot of people who pay maintenance fees, and some of the amenities have been shut down. Do they have to pay the full maintenance fee?

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes. You may not be able to use the pool, exercise room, et cetera, but you have to pay for it.”

A couple of people called after they got laid off. They can’t pay child support, and they aren’t getting unemployment yet. Are they going to get in trouble?

Howard Finkelstein: “Probably not, but judges are in their chambers. Call their office to notify them you lost your job. But remember, you are still obligated to take care of your child. They come first, so send as much as you have.”

The effects on people are starting to escalate. Many people have not had a paycheck in a couple of weeks. Food is going to become an issue for them. If you can donate to organizations that supply food, please do. If you have an elderly neighbor who is not able to go to the grocery store, help them out. This is the time for all of us to take care of each other.

Howard Finkelstein: “And if you have questions or concerns, please get in contact with us. We would love to help you out.”

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

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