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Employees unable to work from home continue to report concern over ‘essential’ designations


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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The CBS4 Problem Solvers are hearing from people who say they still have to report to work because their employers have been deemed essential, but they either disagree with the designation or feel unsafe.

A week ago, Governor Eric Holcomb's stay at home order went into effect across Indiana. The order spells out which businesses can continue to operate.

Lisa Woodruff, who works at a manufacturing facility in Hamilton County, is among those who believe that while their larger employer may provide some essential services, their individual workplace does not fall under an essential need.

"We work shoulder to shoulder, very closely every day," Woodruff said.

Woodruff said that she circulated a petition at work last week that landed her in trouble.

"People were coming up to me (saying), 'Where is it? I want on the list," Woodruff said.

According to Woodruff, her employer did decide to offer two weeks of voluntary unpaid leave, which she took so that she could stay home.

"I don’t like the fact I’m not getting paid but I feel a relief," Woodruff said.

On Monday, CBS4 asked Governor Eric Holcomb about situations like Woodruff's and whether the state would intervene.

"We are paying attention to every single complaint that comes into the state," Holcomb said.

Indiana's OSHA, run by the Department of Labor, did add a COVID-19 button to its complaint page, where employees can make informal complaints. A spokesperson said that protocols had not changed and if a complaint is made, the department sends a letter to the employer asking them to respond within seven days.

"I don’t want to deter anyone from contacting the state, know that we are working with your local officials to make sure ... everyone is playing by the rules," Holcomb said.

Woodruff told the CBS4 Problem Solvers that she hoped to set a positive example to protect more workers across the state.

"I just want people to know (they can) speak up. We’re all in this together," Woodruff said.

If you want to make a complaint to IOSHA, visit the link here.

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