SAN FRANCISCO—City officials unanimously passed an emergency ordinance Tuesday, September 1, preventing employers from firing or discriminating against workers who have or have had the novel coronavirus.
The ordinance began as follows, “Emergency ordinance to temporarily protect workers from adverse action if they test positive for COVID-19, are isolating or quarantining, or have previously isolated or quarantined, due to COVID-19 symptoms or exposure; and to protect applicants from discrimination if they test positive for COVID-19, are isolating or quarantining, or have previously isolated or quarantined, due to COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.”
Employers who are found in violation of this ordinance could face a first-time fine of $1,000, a second-time fine of $5,000, and a $10,000 fine for third-time and/or subsequent offenses.
The ordinance was introduced by District 9 San Francisco Board of Supervisor Hillary Ronen. She argued the law is necessary in order to protect the health of the public.
“Many San Francisco workers, particularly low-wage workers, may be reluctant to take a COVID-19 test if they believe that a positive diagnosis and the need to quarantine may result in an adverse employment action, jeopardizing their ability to provide for their families. Applicants for work in San Francisco may have similar concerns,” said Ronen.
Ronen serves San Francisco’s Mission District where the neighborhood has been labeled as “ground zero” for more of the city’s COVID-19 outbreaks than any other neighborhood. There were 1,276 confirmed cases within the neighborhood as of September 1.
The law will take effect immediately once San Francisco Mayor London Breed signs the ordinance and will experience after 61 days unless reenacted by the board of city officials.