Monkeypox leading to more workplace harassment? 

As if we didn’t have enough workplace and other issues to deal with like COVID-19, we now have a new virus:  Monkeypox. The majority but not all of the reported Monkeypox cases have involved men who have been or are in close relationships with other men. Because of the virus’s link to gay and bisexual men, there may be an uptick in harassment and discrimination in the workplace.  

Here are three ways you can protect yourself: 

1. Report any behavior that targets gay and bisexual men 

Conduct in the workplace could include people keeping their distance from members of this group by refusing to work with them or not inviting them to work-related meetings they had previously attended, as well as making comments implying that gay or bisexual male employees have contracted or will contract Monkeypox by virtue of their sexual orientation.  

2. Know your rights.  

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination protects gay and bisexual men, as well as other members of the LGBTQ+ community, from discrimination in the terms and conditions of their employment based on their sexual orientation.  

If you suspect you are being reprimanded, demoted, or fired because your supervisors or co-workers are afraid you are or will be infected with Monkeypox, get in touch with an employment attorney right away. Read more about this subject here: Was your employment terminated? Do you know your rights? 

3. Be aware of your company’s paid-time-off policy.  

If you do contract Monkeypox and need time off to get treatment and recover, know your rights. In New Jersey, after four months of employment, you are entitled to take one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours you worked from the first day of your employment, up to a total of 40 hours per year. Your company also may allow you to use any vacation time you have if you exhaust your sick leave before you can return to work. Read more about this subject here: How much paid leave are employees entitled to? 

Monkeypox is spread through close and intimate contact with an infected person or animal and is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting 2 to 4 weeks. If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus, remember to contact Human Resources and your healthcare provider immediately.  

If you’re being harassed or discriminated against at work, we can help.  Schedule a Strategy Session today. 

Please keep in mind that this is general information, not legal advice. 

And the law may change at any time.  

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