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Companies’ Decisions Show Need to Maintain Accountability


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.

LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE CALLS ON CONGRESS TO KEEP CORPORATIONS ACCOUNTABLE: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, on behalf of organizations that work to advance civil rights, health and economic security, sent letters on Tuesday to lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate urging them to oppose granting businesses immunity from liability for coronavirus-related harms caused by the businesses’ own negligence. “Congress should not create additional barriers to ensuring safe workplaces. Granting immunity from liability to businesses for coronavirus-related claims would harm people of color and women who make up a large share of essential and returning workers doing their part to sustain our communities and promote our nation’s recovery, even as Black and Brown communities have been made more vulnerable to coronavirus infection and death. Immunity also puts seniors and people with disabilities, who are dying at alarming rates, at increased risk of harm,” the groups warned.

AMERICAN AIRLINES SAYS IT PLANS TO FILL PLANES TO CAPACITY: At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield expressed “substantial disappointment” with American Airlines for its policy of filling its planes to capacity despite the coronavirus. The policy, announced Friday and beginning today, contrasts with that of other airlines that are keeping middle seats open to increase distance between passengers and limit the spread of the virus. If American Airlines’ policy decision causes harm, accountability will be crucial.

AMAZON CONCEALED WORKER INFECTIONS DATA: An Amazon warehouse in Minnesota exceeded community infection rates for the coronavirus, according to an internal memo, contradicting the company’s public statements that COVID-19 cases at its facilities were in line with or better than rates in nearby areas. At least 45 workers at Amazon’s Shakopee facility have fallen sick with the coronavirus. The memo, dated mid-May, shows that infections were nearly five times the rate of surrounding counties and far higher than the rate of 0.1% in Scott County, Minn., where the facility is located. Amazon employees, members of the media and lawmakers have repeatedly urged the company to disclose the total number of deaths and infections at warehouses; so far, the company has declined. Congress should not grant immunity from accountability for resulting harm, if businesses conceal data about infected workers from other workers, and thereby endanger workers’ health.