Americans, Workplaces Not Ready for a Rush to Reopen

CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY, NOT IMMUNITY

Welcome to the latest edition of “Corporate Accountability, Not Immunity,” a daily tipsheet highlighting key news and important facts on why Congress should not give corporations legal immunity from coronavirus-related harms to workers, consumers, patients and the public. Also refer to our tipsheet on misleading claims from industry groups and conservative lawmakers. Please send tips, feedback and questions to David Rosen at drosen@citizen.org.

THE “FLOOD” OF LAWSUITS IS A TRICKLE: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other big business trade associations keep sounding the alarm about a “flood” of “frivolous lawsuits” to justify their demand for corporate immunity from liability. In reality, there’s only a trickle of lawsuits against businesses by workers and consumers harmed by the coronavirus, according to a tracker created by Hunton Andrews Kurth. By far, the largest category of coronavirus-related lawsuits are claims against insurance companies. Is the Chamber’s real goal to protect large insurance companies from claims by other businesses?

AMERICANS WOULD NOT FEEL SAFE IF SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES WERE LIFTED NATIONWIDE: Nearly three out of four Americans say that they would not feel safe if social distancing measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus were lifted nationwide, according to a survey published Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A sustainable economic recovery will require public confidence that businesses are operating as safely as possible. Giving legal immunity from accountability when they fail to do so would sabotage that effort.

RUSH TO REOPEN PROMPTS POTENTIALLY HARMFUL PRACTICES: In the rush to reopen, businesses have begun COVID-19 disinfection regimens that expose returning workers and consumers to chemicals that are largely untested for their effect on human health – a development that is alarming health and environmental safety experts. “This is a hazardous proposition,” said Dr. Claudia Miller, an immunologist, allergist and co-author of Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes. “Cleaners tend to go in with hugely toxic chemicals. We’re creating another problem for a whole group of people, and I’m not sure we’re actually controlling infections.” Granting businesses immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits would encourage risky practices with the potential to endanger workers and consumers.