In Fort Lauderdale and other cities across Florida, all types of businesses are working on adjusting to a new normal. Operating during the COVID-19 pandemic presents several legal risks and challenges; and, as a business owner, hiring an experienced business lawyer to help you navigate the landscape is extremely important.
In this two-part series, our lawyers will discuss 10 key legal considerations for Florida businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Part 1 covers issues related to the risks of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace, while Part 2 covers statutory and contractual issues related to economic impacts of the virus.
1. Keeping Employees Safe from COVID-19 Exposure
For employers, protecting employees against exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace needs to be a top priority. All types of companies must adoptpolicies, procedures and protocols to ensure adequate social distancing and to maintain appropriate sanitation of workspaces and common areas. While companies can – and should – follow the guidelines published by the CDC and other authorities, they must ensure that their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus are adequate in light of their particular operational needs.
2. Allowing (or Requiring) Employees to Work Remotely
For companies that have employees who can work remotely, allowing teleworking during the COVID-19 crisis can mitigate the risk of workplace infections. However, when determining which employees will be permitted (or required) to work remotely, employers must be careful to comply with all pertinent anti-discrimination laws, and they must ensure that adequate data security can be maintained as well.
3. Allowing (or Requiring) Employees to Return to Work
Likewise, when allowing (or requiring) employees to return to work, employers must not make decisions based on their employees’ race, nationality or other protected characteristics. Employers are permitted to screen employees for symptoms COVID-19, but they need to cautious to avoid making health-based decisions that may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
4. Setting Rules and Restrictions for Customers
Prior to reopening to the public, companies should determine what measures are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on their premises. In this regard, businesses’ needs will vary widely based on the nature of their operations. Here, too, following published guidelines is a good start, but all companies need to ensure that their protective measures are adequate based on the specific health risks at hand.
5. Responding to COVID-19 Exposure in the Workplace
Even with protective measures in place, it will still be possible for employees and customers to bring COVID-19 into the workplace. As a result, all companies should have protocols in place for responding to possible exposure events. Companies should develop these protocols now – before any exposure events occur – to ensure that they are prepared to protect their employees, their customers and themselves to the fullest extent possible.
Speak With a Fort Lauderdale Business Lawyer at Saavedra Goodwin
Do you have questions about what your company should be doing during the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To speak with a Fort Lauderdale business lawyer at Saavedra Goodwin in confidence, call 954-767-6333 or request an appointment online today.