As the coronavirus pandemic continues, one group of people who are continually being called on for advice is healthcare lawyers. Alexander Djerassi recommend consulting with a lawyer during this time. As the pandemic affects employees of a business they are looking to healthcare lawyers for advice. When employees show up at work with signs they are infected with the pandemic, the business needs to have advice about how to handle the problems associated with the virus.Does the business leave it up to the employees themselves to make a decision to self-quarantine? What about those employees who show no known symptoms themselves of the virus but there is clear evidence that they may have been exposed to the virus by others. Complicating concerns of business is that there are various laws such as the Family Leave and Medical Act and state and local paid leave acts.
Further complicating the Coronavirus front is that in addition to businesses asking questions about how to handle the virus, many worried employees are consulting law firms for advice on whether they can demand or expect work accommodations to work at home rather than going to the office. Finally, many healthcare lawyers, now that the vaccine is nearing, are being inundated with questions related to the vaccine? Businesses want to know whether they can require employees to take the vaccine and here the situation is nuanced. In general, yes, a business can require their workers to take the vaccine as a condition of employment but most attorneys say that few businesses will make it a mandatory requirement. In addition, businesses that require their employees to take the vaccine must carve out religious and medical exceptions, and in order to carve out those exceptions, they will need to have a detailed legal strategy in place. Another legal factor that will keep many attorneys busy for several years will be the number of lawsuits thrown at businesses for post-COVID lawsuits. Congress, and in particular Senate Republicans are trying to tack on riders to COVID-19 relief bulls that would protect a business from being sued as a result of their business practices if people become sick or die, post the pandemic-virus.
It remains questionable whether the Federal Government can actually carve out immunity protection, and in addition, whether the immunity provisions would apply to state suits rather than Federal suits. One of the questions that attorneys are being continually asked by businesses is how to prove they complied with all Federal, State, and Local ordinances to prove that they are providing at least minimal care to prevent the spread of the disease. Here, OSHA rules primarily dictate the answer, followed by following advice from the CDC. But it is clear that a business, in particular, one where the public is involved to co-mingle with the staff such as a grocery store, hospital, doctors, or dentist’s office, or even a restaurant must have a thorough plan to protect everyone involved. And attorneys are being called to draft these plans carefully to allow the business to stay open, but at the same time to do everything in their power to prevent the spread of disease, according to Alexander Djerassi.