Health Care Workers on the Front Lines Still Need Masks, But Corporate Lobbyists Are Pushing for Business Immunity

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. Please send tips, feedback and questions to David Rosen at drosen@citizen.org.

HEALTH CARE WORKERS STILL FACE SHORTAGE OF MASKS: In a Washington Post/Ipsos poll released Wednesday, two out of three health care workers said their workplaces still face shortages of the masks that block airborne particles like the coronavirus. If doctors and nurses on the front lines of the pandemic are forced to put their health at risk to care for highly infectious patients, it’s doubtful that ordinary workers at grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants are faring any better. But instead of providing equipment necessary to protect workers, businesses are lobbying Republicans in Congress to protect themselves from accountability to people.

MCCONNELL’S IMMUNITY PLEDGE SPARKS CORPORATE LOBBYING FRENZY: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) pledge to grant business immunity from coronavirus-related liability has triggered a frenzy of corporate lobbying on Capitol Hill. In the absence of a specific proposal endorsed by McConnell, lobbyists representing insurance companies, manufacturers and other businesses are pushing their own proposals to block workers, consumers and patients from holding them accountable in court. Many of these corporate lobbying groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have for decades pushed for legal immunity for businesses big and small. Now they are trying to use the pandemic as an opportunity to take away people’s right to hold them accountable if they cause injury, engage in fraud, price gouging, retaliation or inflict other harms on workers, consumers and patients.

MINSINFORMATION FROM THE CHAMBER: Neither workers nor consumers are flocking to the courts over exposure to the coronavirus, contrary to which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is telling lawmakers. As the Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP law firm’s case tracker clearly shows, the vast majority of lawsuits related to the coronavirus are about insurance coverage, civil rights and prisoners. The pandemic is no excuse for giving businesses free rein to violate civil rights, engage in discrimination or fail to honor their contracts.