A bill introduced by House Republicans seeks to shield companies from lawsuits brought by workers who becoming sick with COVID-19 after going back to work, which many low-income individuals will be forced to do as certain states re-open non-essential businesses. Multiple states led by Republican governors have stipulated that individuals who refuse to return to work when asked due to fears of becoming sick will be denied unemployment benefits, essentially forcing them to put themselves at risk.
If this bill passes, they won’t be able to seek any compensation for missed work and hospital bills that would likely accrue if they did contract the novel coronavirus as long as the company followed state and federal laws around re-opening during the pandemic.
— The Hill (@thehill) May 5, 2020
Of course, these laws can differ from state to state and none of them protect workers from getting sick as well as allowing them to stay home and still get paid.
Bill sponsor Representative Mike Turner claims that businesses are afraid to re-open and force employees back to work because they might get sued for putting their lives at risk.
“Many businesses are concerned about reopening due to the risk associated with being held liable if one of their employees contracts coronavirus after coming back to work,” he said in a statement. “This bill is proactive and seeks to protect complying businesses and employees as we begin to restart the economy.”
Republican-led Utah has already passed and signed a similar bill as the state begins to re-open restaurants and hair salons.
Under pressure from labor unions, Democrats are pushing back on this bill, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi promising to put the lives of workers before the profits of corporations.
“At the time of this coronavirus challenge, especially now, we have every reason to protect our workers and our patients in all of this,” she said. “So we would not be inclined to be supporting any immunity from liability.”
McConnell says liability protection for businesses is Republicans' "red line" in negotiations for the next relief bill, and he wants to prevent "an epidemic of lawsuits" https://t.co/9T8aUPjUrs pic.twitter.com/moadUD4wdp
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 5, 2020
Unfortunately, champion bill-blocker Mitch McConnell is threatening to block additional state and local government funding unless Democrats give in on this, claiming to fear an “epidemic of lawsuits.” Lawsuits, as far as we know, have been responsible for few if any fatalities.
This may be why the bill is not very popular among people who actually work for a living.
House GOP bill would block lawsuits by workers sickened with virus.
For those who are protesting the stay-at-home policies, lets see how you feel when one of your loved ones die COVID-19 because they were forced to work in a office with infected ppl.
— Rev. Lorenzo C. Hines Ω #TheeILove (@LCHines1911) May 5, 2020
So…if it’s safe to open back up…why do we need to protect businesses fro. lawsuits? https://t.co/bAADgbSeAm
— Stick to…not going back to brunch (@StickToNothing) May 5, 2020
That does presuppose the guidelines are sufficient to protect those workers and it also doesn’t address the fact that they won’t be covered on the commute to and from their place of work .
— Balaclava Bob: Social Distancing Since 2009 (@Cole_not_Coal_) May 5, 2020
Republicans got us in this mess. They are still making every terrible decision possible.
If they try to force us back outside and also make it our own liability, they better hide the guillotines first.
— Jon Quijano ????????????⚖️????????✍????????????⛺️???????????????????????? (@jon_quijano) May 5, 2020
They’re heroes right up until the time that they cut into the profit; then they’re statistics.
— Margaret Sheehan (@MargareMSheehan) May 5, 2020
As has always been the case, the goal of American conservatism is the creation of a work force they can kill with impunity.
— Iago Montana (@MrReciprocity) May 5, 2020
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) to introduce bill barring workers from suing employers if they contract COVID-19 by returning to work, if employer complied w/federal/state laws in reopening.
Yes, seriously. Republicans value business over American lives.https://t.co/51nKvdVPTt
— KrisS ???? Your Vote, Your Voice ???? (@MplsMe) May 5, 2020
So people have to wager with their lives and biz wants full indemnity? This is where capitalism becomes a death cult.
— Barri Cohen☘???????????????? (@barridoc) May 5, 2020