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Episode 516

Law & the Coronavirus with Michael Kuhn, Esq. Episode 516: Mike Campion LIVE


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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.


Going back to Mike’s original question, if you see any symptoms of sickness in one of your employees, you have the right to ask them if they’re feeling sick. If they’re not feeling well, you have the right to send him/her home and get themselves checked out, regardless if it’s COVID-19 or any other sickness. This is important because you have to keep 2 things in mind: 1) you have to run your business and 2) you need to protect your coworkers and employees.

Mike: What liability do we have, as owners, if we send out employees that we don’t know are sick?

Michael: If you have no knowledge of the illness, it is not your liability as the owner. As soon as you have any knowledge of an illness, you need ACT. If the employees have symptoms, ask them to stop working and get a doctor’s note. Also workman’s comp insurance is a great umbrella to protect employers from being directly liable, as long as the owners are not acting negligent (for example – sending out employees to work that the owner KNOWS are sick). Lastly, it would be wise to check to make sure your employees haven’t travelled outside of your area lately to any hotspots like NYC, LA, or Seattl

Mike: What if we send an employee into a job, such as a hospital, with heightened risk, and they get sick from the location?

Michael: OSHA has different risk scenarios for the workplace and the one you just mentioned would be considered a high to severe level of risk. As an employer in this situation, it is your duty to help your employees get protected as per CDC guidelines in a high risk environment. Again, this type of situation elevates your duty as an employer.

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?

The general advice you gave earlier is a great one, Mike – don’t say anything that implies that the cleaning is for COVID-19 only. Instead, focus on deep cleaning, disinfecting, and getting rid of all germs. Give a general description of the services you provide and how it benefits others. Please keep in mind that you should never be guaranteeing a complete removal of COVID-19 or any other virus for that matter – since it’s an impossible thing to guarantee.

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:
Covid-19 appears to be a generic reference to the virus, so it is free for anyone to use. Of course, it is a separate issue whether Facebook will allow for its use, or not. That is a contractual issue (they can enforce any of their terms of use given that it is their platform).
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:

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