TAMPA, Fla — As businesses start to reopen, one question that keeps coming up has to do with liability.
Is a business responsible if a customer or employee gets coronavirus as a result of being there?
We talked to a local business attorney, Jeffrey Lieser to get some answers.
The first big question: Can an employer require you or even ask you to take a COVID-19 test before going back to work and do you have to share the results
Lieser said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has already weighed in on many of these issues with respect to what is and is not allowed under the American with Disabilities Act.
"Employers are allowed to take an employee's temperature and to administer COVID-19 tests to employees before they enter the workplace to determine if they have the virus. If an employer does this, they need to make sure tests are safe, accurate, and reliable. "
We as consumers are starting to venture out more to eat, get haircuts, swim at the pool, even go to the gym. As we come into contact with more people, we could be more at risk of contracting the virus.
According to Lieser, the difficulty in holding a business liable if you believe you caught the virus eating at a particular restaurant will be proving you caught it there.
Then you also have to prove that business was not doing everything reasonable to protect its customers.
"The public is assuming liability by just living and breathing and going out in the world, but that doesn't mean that doesn't mean that the places they're invited to whether it's a pool, or a place of business can recklessly ignore the guidance from the officials as to what you need to do to operate a safe space."
He also says businesses do have the right to ask you to go home if you are symptomatic. They even ask to take the temperature of both employees and customers just to make sure they are doing everything they can to keep people safe.
Lieser says he does not expect to see a ton of these type of lawsuits on a small scale, although they will pop up here and there. The larger-scale suits against nursing homes and cruise ships are already starting to happen because liability is much easier to prove in those cases with larger outbreaks.
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