Co-funded by the European Union

US legislations on employers’ liability protection clauses in case of Covid-19 could become a federal issue

  • If this regulation is adopted, employers’ liability would be limited to acts of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
  • The law would have retroactive effect from 2019 and be in force until 2024.

A new legislation with a liability protection from Covid-19 could be part of the next US virus-related stimulus package. The proposal is currently discussed at the political level and presented widely in the media as a way to help the US economic recovery. It aims at avoiding customers’ and employees’ lawsuits against employers/business owners in case of contagion and at limiting business legal liability to acts of “gross negligence or intentional misconduct” with retroactive effect from 2019 until 2024.

As indicated in the US Chamber of Commerce’s letter to President Trump on 16 July 2020, one area of concern requiring urgent action is the “Liability Protections Against Unwarranted Lawsuits”. “The Chamber calls on Congress to pass timely, temporary, and targeted liability relief that will provide employers, healthcare providers, non-profits, and educational institutions a safe harbor from these types of lawsuits when they make good-faith efforts to follow applicable public health guidelines. […] A safe-harbor will ensure that bad actors can be held accountable while simultaneously protecting those entities who are working to follow public health guidance”.

This kind of legislation is already in force in 10 States, namely Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.

In case of illness, employees may claim workers’ compensation under Covid-19 legislation and/or file complaints about workplace safety with OSHA.