Many Healthcare Workers Are Demanding Hazard Pay

By: Jason Stoogenke – Updated: April 3, 2020 – 1:57 PM

CHARLOTTE — Lashonda Price is a registered medical assistant for Atrium Health. She told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke she was working in a doctor’s office, but she’s now at Atrium Health – Main — coming in contact with COVID-19 patients.

“I am actually doing the floating for the virtual visits, so the doctors are at home or in their office and we take the computer screens around to the 10th floor or wherever the positive patients are in the hospital. So those are the only patients I see. Positive [for COVID-19] patients,” Price said.

She told Action 9 she came in contact with about a dozen of those patients each day this week.

“Terrified. Especially knowing that I could possibly bring something home to my daughter,” Price said.

She said the hospital gave her gloves, a mask, and even goggles, but not more money.

“The situation will still be equally [terrifying], but at least we [would be] compensated for putting our life at high risk,” Price told Action 9.

And she’s not alone. Another Atrium employee emailed Action 9: “Every day, myself and my teammates are putting our lives, along with our family’s health, at risk.”

And another told Action 9 her husband works for Atrium and “he comes home to two small children, possibly putting them at risk.”

Price emailed Atrium’s president and said his office responded, saying, “The issue of hazard pay was discussed a few weeks back … all agreed this was not something we could support at this time … as healthcare professionals, we all know there’s always a risk caring for patients, especially those who have gone undiagnosed.”

Josh Van Kampen is a labor lawyer. He feels Congress should amend the law – in this case, the Fair Labor Standards Act – to require people in danger of contracting the virus receive hazard pay.

“If you think about it in the military context, if you were receiving hazard pay by being in a war zone, these healthcare workers are in a war zone essentially because our nation has declared war on the coronavirus,” he said.

Action 9 emailed Atrium Health to hear more of its side of the story as well Novant to understand its stance on hazard pay, but as of now, has not heard back.

Looking for more information on protecting your employment rights during COVID-19? Visit our COVID-19 Employment Law Resources for Employees page.