While COVID continues to impact every part of society, businesses continue to struggle with how to operate safely. A major part of this consideration is keeping staff safe as and after they return. One concern for businesses in doing so is whether they’ll face liability if staff members become infected at work, an issue governments are looking to address.
Initially, these issues are being addressed at the state level with Georgia, for example, looking to pass a law that will protect health care providers and some other businesses from legal liability. The law would, however, allow lawsuits to proceed if a business operated with “gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm” causing an employee to contract COVID.
However, the issue may not stay a state-by-state issue. Republicans in Congress are looking to pass a law protecting schools and corporations from liability if workers fall ill on the job. The proposed law would offer five years of legal protections to businesses that make reasonable efforts to comply with government standards for protecting their employees from COVID.
Republicans have been pushing for any relief package to include such protections but face considerable backlash, including from athletes in college and pro sports. Additionally, the White House has not committed to supporting such a provision, and Democrats have pushed back citing concerns that workers would be forced to choose between their health and their finances without any protections should their right to sue be limited. The proposal also comes at a time when lawsuits have already begun to be filed by employees who contracted the virus at work.
With so much in flux, an experienced legal team can help navigate a difficult time for businesses, particularly with the ever-changing landscape for companies during the current crisis.