Coronavirus: Who's liable if I get sick with COVID-19 at my job?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- This week, Tesla reopened their factory in defiance of local orders. But now the question on several employees' mind is: what are my options if I get sick with COVID-19?

"Often workers have to be careful to document where they think the exposure has occurred," said Laura Stock, Director of the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley.

Stock says employees could qualify for workers compensation with this proof and workplaces also need to make changes.

"They are required to have a detailed injury, prevention program that layouts how workers are going to be protected from having hazards on the job and when COVID-19 is a hazard as it is when workers are going to be expose to other co-workers that needs to be included in this plan," said Stock.

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Some Tesla employees are concerned about the possibly of their unemployment benefits getting suspended if they decide not to show up to work.

"They are now going to be denying people those benefits and that's a great concern to a lot of organizations that are advocating for workers," said Stock.

Workers' rights attorney Alejandra Cuestas urges employees to voice concerns and build a strong case.

"Show that they are not having protective PPE, social distance and increasing the risk because of public transportation. I think they have a strong argument to that if they fire them that would be retaliation and that is unlawful," said Cuestas.

On a smaller scale, the owners of Green Apple Books in San Francisco are working with their employees based on what makes them comfortable. Their business has been mostly online since the shelter-in-place order began.

"We have a number of staff members who said they are not comfortable working at the store yet. They were assigned to work from home with internet orders," said Pete Mulvihill, co-owner of Green Apple Books.

The 52-year-old San Francisco bookstore has been set to reopen for curb side pick up on May 18.

"This situation will evolve and improve in the upcoming months and everyone will feel safe again. But, in the meantime, we wanted to take all precautions to make staff feel like we care about them because we do."

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