Workers’ rights in Mich. amid stay-home order, coronavirus emergency

Many have called the FOX 2 newsroom Monday with questions about how Gov. Whitmer’s stay-home order applies to their job.

Many want to know if they still have to show up for work if their job is considered essential and the boss says so – and what rights they have if they do decide to start staying home.  

Gov. Whitmer included several jobs in her stay-home order that are deemed critical and essential, meaning workers are still expected to come in. You can see that full list here.

“If you have some symptoms and need to be quarantined at home for medical reasons, you are protected under the Michigan Disabilities Discrimination Act and the American Disabilities Discrimination Act,” says Deborah Gordon, an employment attorney.

But most of the people we've spoken with feel fine; they're just weighing what's more important: their job or their health. 

For example – say you work at the local drugstore. You’re not a pharmacist; you're the friendly face that greets people when they come in and rings up their orders. This place is going to stay open, according to the governor. So what happens if you decide you don't want to come to work?

You may be out of luck - and you may be out of your job. 

"Your average Michigan employee with the presumption is you are at-will and the employer can fire you for any reason or no reason," Gordon says. 

Gordon says you can ask your employer for job protection under the Family Leave Act, which allows for 12 weeks of leave - that's unpaid leave. 

Another option is to file for unemployment, but if you leave on your own will, there's no guarantees you'd be eligible. 

RELATED: Whitmer orders Michigan-wide shelter-in-place order, starts at midnight

"I can't come in; I’m afraid I’m going to become ill; I’m in a compromised age group of medical condition – whatever it is, I think you’re going to be eligible for unemployment benefits. Is that written in the law today? No. Do I think that’s going to be interpreted that way? Yes,” Gordon says.  

We’ll see how Michigan businesses respond in this unprecedented time.