As cities and states begin to reopen while the United States continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees who are asked to return to work have concerns about contracting the virus. What’s more, lawmakers and business advocacy groups are pushing for a federal liability waiver, which would eliminate employer liability for COVID-19 infections among workers. In a recent Newsday article, attorney Edward Steinberg voiced his concerns for New York City workers, which are summarized below.
Inconsistent Safety Precautions
While Governor Andrew Cuomo has mandated face coverings and six-feet social distancing for essential businesses throughout the state, the government is not currently tracking how well companies are following these orders. What’s more, many individuals have expressed confusion about the safety requirements. This lack of oversight puts employees at risk as they return to their jobs. Those who support the waiver call it a way to help employers adapt to changing regulations. Advocates fear that frivolous lawsuits would threaten businesses that act in good faith to keep workers safe as they reopen.
The Danger of a Liability Waiver
State law holds employers financially liable when a worker develops an illness or suffers an injury at the workplace. However, the proposed COVID-19 liability waiver would shield businesses nationwide from personal injury lawsuits even when they fail to protect their workers by checking people’s temperatures and providing protective equipment, such as gloves and masks. This measure would leave employees vulnerable to serious illness, significant medical bills, and lost wages while posing a threat to their lives. In the Newsday article, Edward Steinberg called the liability waiver an exploitative political move that prioritizes the profits of big businesses over public health and safety.
New York City workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 at their jobs can seek a free consultation from Leav & Steinberg LLP. With outstanding customer service and a history of favorable client results, we are dedicated to helping workers who have become ill or been injured at work. Call 212-766-5222 or contact us online for a free appointment with one of our seasoned attorneys.