A recent Gallup survey examined how the ongoing pandemic has affected work opportunities in the past year. Like other aspects of life, the pandemic has increased and aggravated existing inequalities when it comes to employment-related matters. For example, income losses because of layoffs during the pandemic have hit people of color and people of lesser incomes far harder than others. In addition, as confirmed by a recent report issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the pandemic has had a disproportionately adverse impact on women. In particular, women have been forced out of the workforce across industries at much higher rates than men because of increased childcare needs, among other reasons. Moreover, approximately half of all employees who have been laid off during the pandemic have not been able to feed or house their families as needed. Of those who have been able to retain their jobs, furthermore, less than half of those employees in less skilled service positions or other frontline jobs believe that their employers are taking the required steps to create and maintain a safe work environment.
In this context, where so many feel vulnerable, the potential for work-related safety, civil rights, and wage violations increases. Precisely for these reasons, it is essential that employees know their rights and remedies regarding unsafe working conditions, the prohibitions against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and wage theft issues. That the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing as the number of people being vaccinated is also increasing underscores the importance of doing better as a country about securing and preserving workplace fairness for all.