Coronavirus has driven the world’s economies to a halt. Businesses, especially those deemed “non-essential,” have felt the brunt of government-imposed lockdowns and consumer wariness. Yet everyone from the federal down to state governments has begun discussing how to reopen the economy. Looming in the shadows of this discussion, however, are concerns over potential business risks and liabilities. Being prepared for the post-coronavirus legal landscape requires an experienced Connecticut business attorney.
A number of legal, regulatory, and liability issues pose challenges to businesses after the coronavirus pandemic eases. These are some of them:
It’s not clear how long the current social distancing rules will stay in place. Businesses who rely upon high-density gatherings, such as bars and restaurants, need clarity on these guidelines. But what happens if they are lifted and someone gets sick?
Employment discrimination. Many employers will choose to evaluate their workers’ medical and health risks due to coronavirus. This may be done especially for employees who are in high-risk demographics. However, doing so could pave the way for disability and other lawsuits alleging discrimination. Without clear guidance, companies could be leery of acting in their and their employees’ safety.
There are numerous state and federal laws that protect the health privacy of employees. However, employers needing to verify their workers’ health could run afoul of these laws. This poses a catch-22 because without ascertaining an employee’s health, other workers and customers could be put at risk. A safe-harbor provision to existing health privacy laws could benefit employers.
If an employee catches coronavirus, can the employer be held responsible for workplace safety violations? Will all employers be required to provide personal protective equipment or only certain ones? OSHA regulations and workers’ compensation laws will likely also come into play in this area.
Coronavirus has caused employers to have to consider several interrelated matters. Will an employer be required to accommodate an employee who insists on returning to work without proper screening? Are there any procedural requirements that a company must follow before laying off workers due to government closures? It is likely that the employer-employee relationship will drastically change after the pandemic. But will the laws and regulations keep up?
Will a business be liable – and to what extent – if a customer contracts coronavirus? Will it be an issue of simple negligence or will another legal theory apply? Lawsuits overexposure liability could drive companies to bankruptcy. However, a safe harbor rule for companies following public health guidelines may be a solution.
These and other concerns have prompted legal observers to predict a wave of coronavirus lawsuits after the pandemic ends. It is possible, though not likely, that lawmakers may take action to prevent or minimize some of these risks. Consequentially, many companies will be left vulnerable to financially catastrophic litigation.
Lawsuits of this nature don’t just damage the businesses that have to defend against them. They may cause other companies to be overly cautious and refuse to open their premises. If a business decides it would be safer to stay closed, employees and customers will be hurt in the process. It’s important for companies to understand their legal responsibilities and take action accordingly.
Helping Your Company Meet The Challenges Of Today’s Legal Environment
Coronavirus could have a significant effect on the legal landscape that will govern your business. That’s where Aeton Law Partners comes in. We can advise your organization as to the laws that may affect them concerning the pandemic. Where necessary, steps can be taken to bring your company into compliance or minimize the risk of litigation. Don’t wait until your business is facing the threat of a lawsuit. Contact us today to find out how to prepare for a post-coronavirus world.