Episode 516 – Law & the Coronavirus with Michael Kuhn, Esq.
Today we have a special guest on the show, Michael Kuhn, Esq. He is an attorney based out of Richmond, VA and he is going to go over the legal ramifications of the Coronavirus for you, your company, your clients, and your employees. He’s going to give us tips on how to make it through this difficult time and navigate it!
3 main areas of risk:
As Mike sees it right now, there are 3 main areas of risk as he sees it: the cleaning company employees, the cleaning company clients, and then the customers/business of the cleaning company clients.
Mike: Which would you be most concerned about?
Michael: All of them. First off though, the good news is a lot of states have enacted different acts to make cleaning companies exempt from travel restrictions. In fact at this point, most cleaning services are considered essential infrastructure and critical business.
Mike: What liability do we have, as owners, if we send out employees that we don’t know are sick?
Mike: What if we send an employee into a job, such as a hospital, with heightened risk, and they get sick from the location?
Mike: What about the following 2 scenarios? 1) if the protective gear is available and they still get sick and 2) protective gear is not available (common problem right now) and they get sick?
Those are both tricky scenarios, and I don’t think there’s a path yet to answer that completely. Employees generally have the right to refuse to go into a workplace environment that’s legally considered an inherent risk of getting seriously ill, or even death. So this is a very gray and dark area. In the past, OSHA would come in and look at the particular scenario, but this is territory that is unprecedented so it’s very hard to give advice. You could run into the issue that your employee refuses to go and if you force, or mandate them to go, you’re in a gray area legally. There’s no perfect answer to this question, unfortunately.
Mike: What if the employee wants to work but doesn’t want to wear the proper protection?
It is up to the employee how much protection they want to wear, and all you can do is advise. However, I would keep records of this to avoid any liability later down the line. Even though everything is chaotic and busy right now, I would take time at the end of the day or shift, to add a note ton the personnel file of what occurred. If they refused, stick a note that you did everything you could to protect your employees.
Mike: How specific should we get with customers regarding guaranteeing virus removal?
Mike : One of our listeners is asking if there’s any words we can’t use in advertising?
Please note, as mentioned in the broadcast, Michael would check on this for us with his colleagues to get the best answer for us. He got back to Grow My Cleaning Company with the information below:
I have been able to get an answer from my colleague and partner, Michael III to the question one of the listeners was asking, whether it is permissible for any business to use the word “Covid-19”, or not.
Here it is:
With respect to the ad claim, your clients can say or state anything they want as long as they have the appropriate evidence to support the claim. However, I’m not sure how anyone could have such evidence at the moment given the fact that the threat is ongoing and there doesn’t seem to have been much time for a clean-up, but perhaps I’m wrong.
As we discussed on the podcast, a separate issue therefore is whether one should provide a warranty or even a guarantee on whether such cleaning would rid the customer of any and all viruses, which I would never recommend doing, for all of the reasons already stated in the podcast. Such risk is just way too high. Plus, most/all insurance would not cover such a risk. I would never advise advertising or giving such a guarantee unless you had an unequivocal representation from your insurance company of coverage. Thus, your clients should definitely steer away from any such warranties or guarantees.
Michael’s Closing Thoughts:
My main job is to help my clients’s businesses through this time, which isn’t easy since information is changing daily from media. We just want to help everyone through this and help people understand what is important. If you can continue to focus on your business, so that you don’t have to be kept up at night, worrying about the law – that’s my main job through this!
If you need more help, please feel free to reach out to Michael Kuhn, Esq. for a consultation at: firstname.lastname@example.org