Students, Workers Fear an Unsafe Return

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.

WARREN OPPOSES IMMUNITY FOR COLLEGES: On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions held a hearing on going back to college safely. One issue discussed was whether to grant universities legal immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits brought by students and workers who get sick or lose their lives when college campuses reopen in the fall. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said immunity would allow colleges to take unreasonable risks. See the exchange here.

COALITION OF LAW STUDENTS AND CONSUMER GROUPS OPPOSE IMMUNITY FOR COLLEGES: The People’s Parity Project, a nationwide network of law students from 50 schools, said in a letter to the Senate committee that “legal immunity would jeopardize students and campus workers, risk turning universities into COVID-19 hotspots, and potentially force schools to shut down again.” In addition, a coalition of consumer groups, led by Americans for Financial Reform and the Student Borrower Protection Center, warned that “immunity from legal liability could empower the worst actors in the higher education sector to gamble with students’ lives.”

EMPLOYEES FACE REPRISAL FOR HEALTH CONCERNS ABOUT RETURNING TO WORK: As employees across the nation are told to return to work, those who balk at the health risks are facing reprisal from their employers. Some are losing their jobs if they stay home, while others have had their unemployment benefits cut off – sometimes prodded by state authorities. With businesses forcing workers to choose between their livelihoods and their lives, letting employers off the hook when employees get sick as a result would be unconscionable.