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Do Businesses Need Pandemic Liability Protection As States Consider Reopening?




An activist writes messages on her vehicle as she participates in a May Day protest during the coronavirus pandemic, May 1, 2020 Washington, DC.
An activist writes messages on her vehicle as she participates in a May Day protest during the coronavirus pandemic, May 1, 2020 Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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Some groups and political leaders are calling for wide scale changes that would limit legal liability for businesses. According to the New York Times, advocates say protections in the areas of worker privacy and product manufacturing are necessary, otherwise already struggling businesses could be up against a number of lawsuits. That’s because customers or employees could claim the business is at fault if they contract COVID-19. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants to see businesses shielded from legal liability when it comes to coronavirus lawsuits, the Wall Street Journal reports. But other organizations and labor leaders say the move could lead to corporations cutting corners on safety efforts, which could put folks at risk. Some legal experts also say businesses’ concerns over an influx in lawsuits is overblown. The issue has vaulted to the forefront of the debate in Congress over the next, and fifth, coronavirus relief bill that’s still in its infancy. The safety of returning workers has dominated union negotiations between casino workers and their employers in Las Vegas. And governors in some states are imposing restrictions on the ability of people to collect unemployment if they choose not to return to work out of fear for their safety. The debate has put policy makers on the hot seat at the same time that they are moving forward with reopening their states.

Today on AirTalk, we discuss pandemic liability. Are you a business owner or employee? Do you think businesses need protection as states look to reopen their economies? Or do you think the move would decrease safety efforts? Join the conversation by calling 866-893-5722. 

With files from the Associated Press 

Guests:

Doug Kantor, lawyer that focuses on public policy based in Washington DC, he’s also counsel to the National Association of Convenience Stores known as NACS, an international trade organization that represents the convenience and fuel retailing industry 

Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union, which represents two million people including 700,000 in California, she’s also a member of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recovery task force; she tweets @MaryKayHenry

Thomas Lenz, labor and employment lawyer in Pasadena, he’s also lecturer at USC Gould School of Law; he tweets @TALlaborlaw