- Nearly three-quarters of employers responding to a recent Blank Rome survey said they were not pursuing COVID-19 employee liability waivers, the law firm said in a July report.
- Only 8% said they require workers to sign such waivers before entering the workplace. Fewer said they require clients or visitors to sign.
- "The enforceability of these type of waivers is likely to be fact-specific and state-specific, but under established law most courts will not enforce waivers that violate public policy and will consider the parties' respective bargaining power," the firm’s report said.
Employers and business groups have been calling on Congress to pass legislation shielding them from certain lawsuits related to COVID-19.
Just last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others sent a letter to lawmakers seeking such protections for employers, schools and others. It would be "an enormous mistake" to exclude temporary liability protections from the next coronavirus relief package, the organization's executive vice president and chief policy officer, Neil Bradley, said in a July 31 statement. "The entire business community, universities and colleges, and local school boards across the country are all united in support for a liability safe harbor for those who adhere to public health guidelines. Inclusion of a safe harbor is critical to reopening schools and restoring our economy."
Without such a shield, however, some employers are considering or implementing liability waivers. In addition to the question of enforceability, such requirements also could discourage employees from returning to work, attorneys at law firm Fisher Phillips cautioned in a blog post. "They may also result in negative reactions and publicity concerns, as has occurred in several instances across the country already," they wrote. Schools, in particular, have garnered attention for requiring students to sign liability waivers, Education Dive reported.
Instead, the Fisher Phillips attorneys recommended, employers should focus on safety and training.