Legal experts surmise that in the wake of COVid-19, a wave of lawsuits is coming to the workforce. Businesses are struggling to adhere to HIPPA, anti-harassment, local & state regulations, (future) OSHA policies, and stay up to date on current and changing medical guidelines. Although there have been talks about reducing or removing liability, it has yet to be done on a federal level.
As organizations head toward the process of reopening, questions regarding those first steps still remain. Can a company force its employees back to work? Are Return to Work policies free from anti-harassment and HIPPA violations? Are processes in place to protect against identifying sick employees? Will an employee’s physical location identify their medical condition? How should a company consider at-risk employees? Will improper planning be considered an unsafe work environment? Are employers considering the psychological effects? Are national businesses differentiating and adhering to both state and local guidelines (Ex. New York)? Is your company paying its workforce for completing training and has the company made the request to do so during regularly scheduled hours (non-overtime)? As work-from-home employment continues, has your company created new policies to clearly segment work, school, and family life? Can non-Covid-19 employees be discriminated against? Is there liability for an employer causing an employee to catch COVID-19 at work?
In consideration of the issues mentioned above, and the additional ones that we can’t imagine, a risk vs benefit analysis must be done. One such analysis is the Learned Hand Test B > PL. This calculus of negligence formula, with the correct variables, may be used assess and mitigate legal risks.
Question to Consider:
Does your return-to-work playbook include new policies drafted around these and other legal issues?
COVID-19: THE HIGHLIGHTS
The U.S. is watching Texas closely as it has lifted several restrictions. Yemen’s medical system has collapsed. The Czech Republic is currently seeing its highest rise. France experienced a spike in Corona virus deaths, but hospitalizations fell. Philippines authorities raided an illegal COVID-19 treatment facility for Chinese nationals. The Philippines raid illustrates a concern that workers across the world, fearing deportation, may seek treatment at unofficial centers, which will further lead to the spread of this deadly disease. New Zealand has proposed a four-day work week to adapt to the pandemic. Christian Drosten has emerged as a world expert and contributor as his lab developed the first CORONA-19 test. Protests in Spain have increased due to the lockdown. The U.S. plans to rollout massive testing to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to the public by the end of 2020.
BEYOND THE NOISE: Global Security Concerns – Is the stage being set for the next Cold War?
China has imposed security laws on Hong Kong which may affect its financial capabilities and add pressure to U.S. and China relations. China is pushing for reunification of Taiwan and the U.S. has announced that it plans to sell Taiwan $180 million in torpedoes. There are also indications that the People’s Republic of China is moving towards strategic naval bases in the Indian Ocean and Africa. Boris Johnson, U.K.’s Prime Minister, has stated that he will end U.K.’s dependence on China’s exports.
The conflict in Libya between the Libyan National Army (supported by UAE & Egypt) and the Government of the National Accord of Tripoli (supported by Turkey and Qatar) continues to escalate. Russian media has recently criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. On May 14th, ISIS carried out multiple terrorist attacks that they labeled Raids of Attrition, mainly in Iraq. Moscow has agreed to supply Iraq with “TOS-1A Solntsepek heavy flamethrower systems, Mi-28N and Mi-35 helicopters, Pantscir-C1 anti-aircraft and missile gun systems, and T-90 tanks”. Current Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces support the resistance of the U.S. military. Japan has asserted its ownership of Russian controlled islands.
Extremists have intensified their attacks in Mozambique. The death of Abdul Rahim al-Howeiti is expected to undermine tribal support as the House of Saud expands its reach. U.S. and Iran met to deescalate tensions over Afghanistan in the Six Plus Two meeting. However, Iranian oil tankers are currently delivering oil to Venezuela causing a “diplomatic stand-off”. Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has forced more than 480,000 people out of their homes during this pandemic.
The United States is leaving the Open Skies treaty and has not confirmed the renewal of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (US/Russia Nuclear Treaty). In response to China and Russia’s press releases concerning their hypersonic missile programs, President Trump announced the U.S.’s capabilities to detect, fight, and counter-attack.
TRUSTED RESOURCES: for numbers & guidance
Johns Hopkins University – Coronavirus Resource Center
World Health Organization – COVID-19 Pandemic
Center for Disease Control – Coronavirus (COVID-19)