If an employee or customer suspects she was exposed to Covid-19 while on your company’s property, what kind of liability do you face?
Currently, to win a lawsuit, individuals would need to prove that your company didn’t take reasonable care to prevent their exposure. The GOP’s version of a Phase 4 Covid stimulus bill, dubbed the Heals Act, would up the ante: If passed, individuals would need to specifically show that the company acted grossly unreasonably, which is much harder to do. Proponents of the GOP bill say enhanced liability protections would shield businesses against a wave of coronavirus-related lawsuits, and potentially stem the rate of business bankruptcies during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Heroes Act, the Phase 4 bill sponsored by Democrats, staunchly opposes the move. Their argument: The existing standard of liability encourages businesses to take Covid-19 workplace safety seriously; increasing the burden of proof could bring disastrous consequences.
Experts say the debate might be meaningless for actual U.S. businesses: The current bar for suing a company over Covid exposure is already high, which could help explain why very few such lawsuits have actually been filed under the current law since the pandemic began.
Read our story to learn more about one of the biggest reasons Congress adjourned last week without passing a Phase 4 bill, which could include significant financial aid for small businesses--but might now be weeks away, or more.