Can you fire an employee if their behavior outside of the office poses a risk to your business and other employees?
This is exactly the question a court will soon consider.
Nicolas Prada worked as a waiter at Tomukun Noodle Bar in Michigan. When he began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, Prada alerted his manager and isolated for the required 14 days, after which he was medically cleared to return.
However, Prada’s manager was wary and began asking Prada questions about how he contracted the virus. The manager was concerned Prada had been “out partying” and “acting irresponsibly,” due to photos posted on Prada’s social media. The manager told Prada he wasn’t permitted to come back to work yet.
Prada quit soon after and filed a lawsuit, suing for interference and retaliation under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
The case is pending, and legal and HR pros everywhere will be watching it closely.
Under the FFCRA, employers must hold on to COVID-positive employees’ jobs for them. However, if Prada was partying as his manager suspected – causing him to be concerned for his other employees – the court could decide the manager had a non-discriminatory reason for firing Prada.
Cite: Prada v. Trifecta Productions, 8/28/20.