What is an Essential Worker?
The definition of “essential worker” may vary from state to state. However, these are generally workers who must go into work to provide essential services where remote working is not practical or possible. In California, essential services in the healthcare sector include health care providers, hospital and laboratory personnel, workers in medical facilities, manufacturers, technicians, warehouse operators, distributors of medical equipment and supplies, public health/community health workers, behavioral health workers, blood and plasma donors, workers that manage health plans who cannot practically work remotely, workers who provide support to high-risk populations to make sure their health is taken care of, workers performing cybersecurity functions at healthcare and public health facilities who cannot work remotely, workers performing disease research, workers performing emergency operations for healthcare entities who cannot work practically work remotely, workers who support shelters and social services for the economically disadvantaged, pharmacy employees, workers providing mortuary services, and those who provide veterinary services.
In Texas, for example, “Essential Businesses” include essential healthcare operations, essential government functions, essential critical infrastructure, stores that sell groceries and other supplies, restaurants, food cultivation, delivery of grocery and essential supplies, transportation, gas stations and businesses needed for transportation, critical trades, construction, professional services, financial institutions, IT services, essential retail, hotels and motels, providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations, essential services necessary to maintain essential operations of residences or other essential businesses, supplies to work from home, public and private education, news media, childcare services, animal care services, religious and worship services, and funeral services.
Several companies, like VITAS® Healthcare have falsely claimed that their entire work force is essential and are forcing people who can work remotely to place themselves and others in danger by working in-person in order to push a profit. Several news outlets have reported on VITAS® Healthcare’s unsavory behavior, and our firm has already filed suit in California:
The California “Shelter in Place” order mandated that people stay home except as needed to maintain essential services. By improperly labeling its employees as essential, VITAS® Healthcare and other companies are unlawfully ignoring the mandate and putting their employees’ and others’ lives in danger.
Companies like VITAS® have thus improperly stated that their entire workforce is an essential worker in an attempt to circumvent “Shelter in Place” orders around the country.