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McCray's Backyard Bar-B-Q and Seafood takes extra steps after potential employee exposure to coronavirus

All workers must get tested for COVID-19, restaurant's owner says
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Posted at 11:08 AM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 19:02:43-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — McCray's Backyard Bar-B-Q and Seafood in Mangonia Park is temporarily closed due to possible coronavirus exposure.

The restaurant's owner said the business closed immediately after learning that one of its employees may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Out of an abundance of caution, the restaurant decided that all employees must get tested for COVID-19 before returning to work in 10 days.

McCray's Backyard Bar-B-Q and Seafood has also hired a sanitation company to deep clean the restaurant in the meantime.

"As we see the COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Palm Beach County, we want to assure you our customers, the community, and our employees will always be our top priority. We will do everything possible to keep them safe," said restaurant owner Derrick McCray.

The restaurant said it notified the Florida Department of Health of the potential exposure.

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Arthur Schofield, a labor and employment discrimination attorney in West Palm Beach, said employees in Florida don't have many rights when it comes to refusing to go to work because of concerns over the coronavirus.

Schofield said that when an employee is awaiting COVID-19 test results, or they're under doctor's orders to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus, they are untitled up to two weeks of leave from their job.

"After the two-week period, if the employer wants them back, they're not gonna have any rights," Schofield told WPTV's Michelle Quesada during a live Q&A session on WPTV's Facebook page.

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Schofield added that if an employee of a business tests positive for COVID-19, their employer is not legally required to inform other workers about the diagnosis, and they're also not legally obligated to close.

"That's entirely up to the employer of the business. Some of them are sharing that information, some of them are not," said Schofield. "Is the employer obligated to share? The answer is no."

Schofield said that if a worker believes he or she contracted COVID-19 at work, it's very difficult to hold your employer legally accountable.

"Can you hold the employer responsible for having exposed that person to the virus?" Schofield said. "It's gonna be near impossible to prove because we don't know when people are contracting that. You can always speculate that it happened at a particular place or business, but we don't know."

On Tuesday, Palm Beach County leaders mandated that everyone must wear masks inside public buildings until further notice. Schofield urged workers to pay very close attention to that mandate.

"It's a requirement that masks be worn now," said Schofield. "And so if an employer is saying to an employee, I don't want you to wear the mask, I want you to violate the law. And the employee refuses and loses his or her job as a result of that, Florida's got a whistleblower statute that would hold that employer responsible for any losses incurred by the employee."