Businesses could face legal liability over COVID-19 - FOX34 Lubbock

Businesses could face legal liability over COVID-19

Posted: Updated:
LUBBOCK, Texas -

Millions of Americans are expected to return to work as states slowly reopen, and with that could come lawsuits surrounding COVID-19.

Starting Friday, the Texas economy will reopen in phases. Attorney Fernando Bustos said an employer could be successfully sued if they violate rules set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA requires businesses to be free of recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm

"So if a company recognizes that coronavirus is a risk of serious physical harm, and doesn't do anything to try to keep a safe workplace, it's possible that those workplaces could be sued, but it has to be within reason," Bustos said.

The Governor's Report to Open Texas, released Monday, provides a checklist for employers that sets minimum standard health protocols. These include training employees on proper cleaning and disinfecting, screening them before they enter the business and sending home anyone who shows possible signs of COVID-19.

"I would suspect that if employers can document that they're following these minimum standards for protocol safety in the workplace, that they should have a good defense against that type of claim later on," Bustos said.

Workers must also be responsible for their own health and well-being, he said.

"If they think that they're sick, they shouldn't come to work," he said. "They should instead go to the doctor and, if necessary, get screened for COVID-19. If they know they've been exposed to somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19, they should quarantine for two weeks."

He said employees can file a complaint with OSHA if they feel their workplace is unsafe, but OSHA does not appear to be actively investigating COVID-19 workplace complaints, unless it is in a healthcare setting.

 

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