ISSA Issues Summary of State-by-State COVID-19 Liability Protections

April 15, 2021 ISSA Issues Summary of State-by-State COVID-19 Liability Protections

ISSA has been tracking and advocating at both the state and federal levels for liability protections for essential businesses that have taken precautions to protect their employees from the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. These businesses face the threat of lawsuits alleging that someone contracted COVID-19 on their premises, the costs of which could be significant to fight.

The cleaning industry continues to work tirelessly to protect Americans from COVID-19 through the critical provision of cleaning and disinfecting products and services. However, as these workers and businesses keep our communities safe and healthy, ISSA members remain concerned that, despite doing their best to follow applicable state and federal guidelines, they may be forced to defend against an onslaught of frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately, this concern has already begun to materialize.

COVID-19-related lawsuits and their corresponding legal costs could deter entities from reopening and ultimately could cripple cleaning businesses both large and small. Absent timely, targeted, and temporary liability protections, many frontline workers and facilities, as well as manufacturers of crucial personal protective equipment (PPE), could be punished for their efforts in the form of costly lawsuits.

As seen in the image above, numerous states have acted to limit COVID-19-related liability, through the introduction and passage of legislation and executive orders. State lawmakers have introduced dozens of so-called “shield bills” that limit COVID-19-related liability for businesses, schools, and caregivers, as the pandemic has sown divisiveness and rancor, creating a fertile ground for lawsuits.

In July of last year, U.S. Senate Republicans introduced and ISSA supported the Safeguarding America’s Frontline Employees To Offer Work Opportunities Required to Kickstart the Economy Act, known more commonly as the SAFE TO WORK Act (S.4317), which would have provided protections for all businesses that made reasonable efforts to comply with government guidance. However, the legislation would not have protected “bad actors” that failed to take reasonable efforts to comply and acted with gross negligence or committed intentional misconduct. ISSA continues to advocate for similar legislation in the current Congress.

“We’ve seen a significant amount of legislative movement on limited COVID-19 liability protections at the state level in 2021,” said ISSA Director of Government Affairs John Nothdurft. “ISSA will continue to monitor this interest and advocate for reasonable liability protections on behalf of the cleaning industry.”

ISSA is working diligently to support the full spectrum of the cleaning industry, in the U.S. and worldwide, during the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing a variety of government affairs resources. Please support the ISSA Advocacy Fund in any amount to help us achieve liability protections for essential businesses that have taken precautions to protect their employees from the spread of COVID-19. For questions regarding ISSA advocacy, including COVID-19 liability protection legislation, please contact John Nothdurft, ISSA Director of Government Affairs.