Source: South Florida Business Journal
As businesses across the globe prepare to reopen after months of closure, some owners fear they will face liability lawsuits by opening so soon amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miami-Dade and Broward counties set a target reopening date of May 18. Miami Beach officials announced hair salons and museums could open May 20, followed by restaurants and sidewalk cafes on May 27, the South Florida Business Journal reports.
One concern is how businesses should address at-risk employees, such as individuals with respiratory illnesses or diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals with these underlying health conditions could face serious complications if they contract COVID-19.
Employers are worried they could be liable to litigation if they force those employees to return to work without taking steps to protect them from exposure.
“Employers should also permit workers to stay home to care for parents, spouses or children who have the virus, when necessary,” said Shani Rivaux, a Miami-based Litigation partner at Pillsbury.
“Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, businesses — including public agencies and private sector companies with more than 50 employees — must provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible workers who need to care for family,” Rivaux added. “Companies have no legal obligation to accommodate healthy workers who are simply afraid of contracting the virus.”
Rivaux suggests employers communicate with employees who have concerns and remind them of the policies and procedures in place to protect the health of workers.