Car dealership employee files Covid-related suit over firing

Parts specialist claims company took action after possible virus exposure

Judges Gavel Or Law Mallet And Word Covid 19 On Sound BlockDespite the fear of business groups when the pandemic began, there haven’t been too many Covid-related lawsuits filed in New Hampshire. But one was complaint was lodged against a Nashua car dealership last month for allegedly firing a parts specialist for quarantining because of possible exposure to the virus.

In a suit filed July 26 against MacMulkin Chevrolet Inc., in U.S. District Court in Concord, parts specialist Matthew Carson of Merrimack alleges that the car dealership violated a Covid law that forbids a company from disciplining a worker for taking leave because of the coronavirus. Carson also sued MacMulkin for violating the Americans with Disability Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. MacMulkin, which employs about 120 workers, declined to comment on pending litigation.

Carson’s disability – torn cartilage in both knees and migraine headaches – caused him to work intermittently, according to the complaint. In addition, he needed to take off some time to take care of his autistic son

“In light of these absences, Caron often worked on his days off in order to compensate for time,” said the complaint, filed by Chad Hansen, of the Maine Employee Rights Group of Portland, Maine.

Caron also requested that he be allowed to sit on stools during work, but was denied that accommodation because other employees were sitting too much.

Things came to a head when he was out of work quarantining after contracting Covid for a second time. The first time was he had been exposed to another employee with Covid, and Carson had slight fevers chills and issue breathing, said the complaint.

The second time occurred after another worker that he worked closely with left work because he was exposed to a family member with Covid. Caron, who also had flu-like symptoms dating back to Nov. 29, left work on Dec. 1. Although his rapid Covid test was negative, his doctor instructed him to quarantine until Dec, 17, the suit says. He was allegedly fired Dec. 9 because of “attendance issues,” shortly after being tested for Covid. According to the suit, Carson would he was told he had to wait several days for the result, which the suit did not disclose.

The lawsuit claims the firing violated the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act section of the Family First Coronavirus Relief Act, passed in the early days of the pandemic.

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