On August 21, Fox News reported on businesses’ worries about COVID-related lawsuits as they reopen.
“Anytime there’s uncertainty in business, there’s an element of fear that’s naturally introduced,” Joe Shamess, owner of Flags of Valor and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council member, told Fox News. “It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right, the mere process of going through it, and the costs associated with it can destroy a company.”
Such worries for employers won’t go away anytime soon. In fact, it will be the opposite. “The threats are pretty extreme, and we expect the number of lawsuits to increase as time goes on,” said Neil Bradley, U.S. Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer.
By the numbers:
- 67% of small businesses with 20-500 employees are worried about COVID-related lawsuits, according to the MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll.
- 61% of Americans think Congress should protect businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits, according to a survey prepared for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.
It’s not just businesses: Fox News notes that while most lawsuits filed so far involve businesses, more will involve schools as they reopen to students this fall. That fear is why the School Superintendents Association, Association of Educational Service Agencies, and the National School Boards Association asked Congress to enact a liability safe harbor for schools.
What we’re doing: The US Chamber continues to urge Congress to pass timely, temporary, and targeted liability protections for businesses, schools, and universities that work to follow public health guidelines. If employers do the right thing, they need assurances they won’t face financial hardships from unwarranted lawsuits.
The Sacramento Metro Chamber has made significant progress in addressing this concern at the local level, influencing the Sacramento City Council to remove such language from local ordinance. We continue to work at the Sacramento County level for the same protection for employers outside city limits.