Throughout the world, small businesses are struggling to adjust to the new economic and legal landscape created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unprepared small businesses may be exposed to lawsuits or fines for violations of labor and employment laws, workplace safety rules and other common law theories.
At Tressler LLP, we recognize the challenges of the rapidly evolving situation related to the novel coronavirus. We want you to know that we are in your corner and ready to assist with any of your legal needs. Small businesses are the driver of the United States economy, and we can assist in the protection of your communities and livelihoods.
In America, employees are protected under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the “Act”). Section 5(a)(1) of the Act is the general duty clause, which obligates employers to provide a workplace that is “free from recognized hazards … likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (commonly known as “OSHA”) is responsible for enforcement of the Act and can issue violations if there is a recognized hazard and an employer fails to take reasonable steps to prevent or abate the hazard. Small businesses also must consider liability to third parties, such as customers, which may not be so limited.
In addition to protecting against liability, small businesses need to evaluate their insurance to mitigate financial loss; assess their contracts with vendors; keep cognizant of updates from credible sources (i.e. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and your local governments); reinforce consistent transparency and sanitation; protect privacy while recognizing the potential need for disclosure (e.g. OSHA has deemed the coronavirus subject to reporting) and implement practical solutions to reduce exposure risk, such as remote work, conference calls and video conferencing.
As this situation unfolds, public health declarations, forced closures and quarantines are impacting numerous industries. We can assist you during this difficult time, including reviewing and analyzing insurance policies and other documents. Coverage needs to be assessed on an individual basis with careful review of the policy text.
Additionally, when it comes to contracts within your businesses, it is important to evaluate each on a case-by-case basis. Many commercial contracts include force majeure provisions, which can operate to excuse a party’s nonperformance when an event outside of a party’s reasonable control prevents them from fulfilling their obligations under the contract. A skilled attorney can assist in the interpretation of your business’s operating documents and advocate for your best interests.
Tressler recognizes that each business will have diverse needs, and we are available to help you develop a plan or policy, evaluate your business records and otherwise assist during the taxing days ahead. Only through proactive planning and careful execution, will your business mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
I am available to develop client-based goals and implement solutions for your business (even on a remote basis, if appropriate). Feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (312) 627-4052.
About Matthew J. O’Malley
Matt is a member of the litigation practice group and advises his clients on litigation strategies, skillfully representing them through all phases of litigation. Matt has a track record of success in both bench and jury trials. He focuses on the client’s resolution goals, whether that is achieved through trial, settlement conference, mediation or arbitration. Matt serves his clients in a variety of complex litigated and non-litigated matters, including actions for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, indemnity and contribution, professional malpractice, personal injury, general corporate, LGBT issues, employment discrimination and civil rights violations.
About Tressler LLP
Tressler LLP is a national law firm headquartered in Chicago, with eight offices located in five states - California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Tressler attorneys are experienced counselors and advocates who appear in state and federal courts, and in governmental proceedings, throughout the United States. Many Tressler attorneys devote their practice to the representation of the insurance industry in coverage analysis and resolution, litigation, underwriting consultation, product development, claims management and reinsurance. Tressler attorneys also represent clients in commercial litigation, employment, local government law, corporate transactions and intellectual property law. Contact us to learn more.