Open For Business During a Global Pandemic?

The horrid impact of COVID-19 upon businesses in the United States has some Americans questioning whether or not reopening the market and economy justifies potentially harming workers, consumers, and further spreading the virus. 

Liability protection refers to the legal protections in place to protect employers from being sued by their employees. Given the potential disastrous health impacts of an unsafe working environment during this global epidemic, I believe that protecting employers instead of employees is the wrong way to approach things. 

Some lawmakers, including the president, have argued that legislation which would shelter businesses and CEOs from lawsuits is essential in reopening the economy. Throughout the month of May, President Donald Trump expressed support for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposal to include immunity from liability for companies that reopen in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in future coronavirus response legislation

Ensuring liability protection does not create incentive for the employer to have appropriate working conditions. 

Ensuring liability protection means that workers are left to rely on their employers to take the necessary precautionary steps to avoid further contamination of the virus. 

Not having the ability to file a lawsuit leaves the average worker in grave danger since companies basically now know that no one will be held responsible for not practicing social distancing and not providing free face masks and gloves. With such non-existent accountability, unsafe working conditions will plague American workers. I recently spoke to three friends who are workers employed by Walmart, Menards, and ShipBob, and they revealed how they were only given two face masks for the entire month. This is a gross violation of their right to have a safe and clean working environment. In the eyes of certain lawmakers, the safety of the average American is not their concern. It is no secret that a plethora of essential workers and those laid off due to COVID are desperate for a consistent paycheck to support their families. 

If the Trump-McConnell Plan goes through, those struggling to get by will feel discouraged from vocalizing their concerns in fear of retaliation.

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