Covid and The Courts – What Will it Mean for Workers’ Compensation?
Covid and The Courts –
What Will it Mean for Workers Compensation?
A series of recent lawsuits might give employers a sneak peak into how the courts may handle workers’ compensation
litigation in the evolving era of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the past three months major corporations such as Amazon, Walmart, and fast-food giant McDonalds have responded
to lawsuits stemming from alleged inadequate implementation of, and adherence to, public health directives aimed at
protecting the workforce against the spread of the virus.
In the case of Amazon, three Staten Island warehouse workers have sued the giant corporation for failing to adhere to
public health guidelines thus causing injury and death to employees and their families. Plaintiffs seek an injunction
requiring Amazon to comply with public health guidelines as well as an order that would declare the company a public
In April, a wrongful death suit was filed against Walmart by the family of a deceased employee who died from
complications of Covid-19. Plaintiffs assert that there were several employees who displayed symptoms and
that another employee died a few days later.
Fast food Giant McDonalds faces a lawsuit from a group of Chicago workers over whether the company adhered
to expert guidance on how to protect its workforce from the spread of Covid 19. The court entered a preliminary
injunction requiring McDonald’s to enforce mask wearing policies and provide social-distance training.
What Will it Mean for Workers’ Compensation?
As the courts are just beginning to respond to such lawsuits it remains to be seen how the gavel will fall in terms of
courts’ and juries’ sympathies. But given the unpredictable and potentially devastating financial impact of trial
outcomes, it seems abundantly prudent that employers take actions to ensure that public health directives such
as compulsory mask wearing, and social distancing, are stringently upheld even when states do not mandate the
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