shelter in place

‘Non-Essential' Businesses Should Be Closed. What if Your Employer Demands You Work?

If you don't believe your work qualifies as "essential", but your office is staying open anyway and the boss tells you to report to work, you may have options.

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Some Bay Area businesses have apparently defied Gov. Newsom's shelter-in-place order, and remained open even if they're not classified as "essential" by the state.

NBC Bay Area got a tip that a chain of non-essential retail stores was still open for business this week, and employees were ordered to work.

Public health officials told us the business was not allowed to lawfully keep its doors open. Two days after our inquiry, that company closed all of its Bay Area locations. The business said it initially had a different interpretation of the stay-at-home order.

If you work for a non-essential business and find yourself in that situation, you might wonder what to do. Attorney Kay Van Wey says you should speak up if you're told to come in.

"I feel like there is wiggle room for the employer who wants to put his or her profits over their employees’ safety," Wey said. "If an employee finds themselves in that situation, they should read the law. It’s written in plain English. And, if they feel their employer is blatantly violating the law, it is a crime, and they should report it to the authorities."

How do you report a violation? You can contact your county's district attorney, or dial 3-1-1.

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