Coronavirus News: Workers at linen cleaning company say they were fired for staying home sick with COVID-19 symptoms

HEMPSTEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- Half a dozen laundry workers on Long Island were fired, they say, for staying at home after suffering symptoms of COVID-19.

At least five laundry workers for a company in Hempstead, which cleans used linens from nursing homes and hospitals, said they were fired for staying home when they weren't feeling well.

Some of those workers had coronavirus.

"They told us if we felt sick to stay home," worker Blanca Landaverde said in Spanish.

Landaverde was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the end of March and was ordered to stay home by the Nassau County Department of Health.

She said she returned to work on April 8 and was fired the next day.

"I feel sad. I can't sleep. I get headaches thinking about what I'm going to do the next day for my children because I'm a single mother of two children," Landaverde said.

Worker Maria Hernandez said earlier this month she wasn't feeling well, so she stayed home and went to the doctor. She wasn't tested for COVID-19.

When she returned to work a few days later, she gave management at FDR a doctor's note from CityMD Urgent Care which said she should be excused from work for April 6 through April 8.

"They told me the doctor's note wasn't sufficient," Hernandez said in an interview in Spanish.

Hernandez, who has worked for FDR for more than 20 years, was also fired. She said she doesn't know how she's going to find another job.

"I haven't been sleeping. I haven't been eating. I'm very worried," Hernandez said.

The attorney for FDR Services, Scott Kamins, said no employees were fired for obeying a quarantine order after having COVID-19 symptoms.

"There are a handful of former employees who stopped coming to work at FDR and did not even call," Kamins said.

The attorney said some of the employees did not report their illnesses to the company for days or even weeks.

"We are trying to get information regarding their situations, as these matters first arose weeks ago, and we are only recently learning of their issues," Kamins said.

Yadhira Alvarez, who is with the union representing the workers, said the union wants a resolution for the employees

"We want them to get their jobs back. We want them to pay the quarantine order, the quarantine time that they're supposed to get paid, and we want them to get paid for this time that they've lost," said Alvarez with Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board, Workers United, SEIU.


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