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Can businesses be sued if employees catch COVID-19?

Can businesses be sued if employees catch COVID-19? Good question! A new proposal in the Nevada Legislature’s special session would allow businesses (excluding healthcare facilities) immunity from liability for death or injury due to COVID-19 if the businesses “substantially complied with controlling health standards” aimed at preventing the spread of the illness. (source)

Regardless of the outcome of the bill, employers should minimize the spread of the virus in their workplace by taking the following steps.

  • Provide face coverings for employees and require employees in client-facing or food preparation roles to wear them.
  • Mandate the use of face coverings by customers or clients and notify all customers and clients of the requirement prior to entering the building.
  • Close or limit access to common areas, such as breakrooms. If limiting access is not possible, require all employees to wear face coverings. 
  • Promote frequent and thorough hand washing by providing employees and visitors with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment with Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals.
  • Provide employees with sanitation and cleaning supplies for common surfaces such as desks and shared office supplies.
  • Encourage employees to follow 6-foot social distancing requirements.

HRinDemand is offering free HR consultation to help businesses cope with the challenges that we are all facing. Please take advantage of the up-to-date information available on the HRinDemand blog, the FAQs section, and our valuable resources page. If you are unable to find the answers you need or merely need to talk, contact Melissa Marsh at 775-400-1322.

Bailey Cummins, PHR, is a member of the HRinDemand team, a human resources company in Reno, NV, offering expert guidance and easy-to-use tools to help small businesses with employment regulations, compliance, employee relations, and company growth.  

Source: Nevada OSHA. (29, July 2020). Scope: Updated Guidance for Businesses Operating in Phase 2 of Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery Plan. http://dir.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/dir.nv.gov/content/OSHA/Features/07-29-20%20(Phase%20II%20Face%20Coverings).pdf

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