COVID-19 Fact Sheet

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The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak raises an array of legal issues for businesses. This Fact Sheet provides an overview of some of the key legal issues that Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C., is monitoring. Updates will be made as they become available. If you have questions about the applicability of any of these issues to your business, we stand ready to assist.

Workplace Safety

Employee Leave – The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) was signed into law on March 18, 2020, and will take effect on April 1, 2020.
  • The FFCRA contains two new federal laws requiring employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid leave for certain COVID-19 related absences.
  • Employers will be provided with refundable tax credits to offset the costs associated with complying with these new laws.
  • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from required leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
  • The Department of Labor will be releasing a model poster regarding the FFCRA that covered employers will be required to post in a conspicuous location.

Employee Compensation

  • The federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state law impose various requirements on employers with respect to employee pay.
  • These statutes may bear on the payment of final compensation to separated workers and the payment of compensation to workers whose hours have changed as a result of COVID-19.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Americans with Disabilities Act

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.
  • Under some circumstances, the ADA may require that employers provide “reasonable accommodations” to employees in connection with COVID-19.
  • The ADA may also bear on communications with employees about COVID-19.

Workers’ Compensation

  • COVID-19-related illness may give rise to workers’ compensation claims if COVID-19 is contracted during the course and scope an employee’s employment.
  • Assessing such claims will require an inquiry into the particular facts and circumstances of the employee’s employment and his or her contraction of COVID-19.

Insurance Coverage

  • Various forms of insurance, including event cancellation insurance, business interruption insurance in commercial property policies, and general liability insurance may be available to mitigate losses arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Contracts

  • COVID-19 may raise a number of issues relating to parties’ rights and obligations under their contracts, including whether the COVID-19 outbreak will trigger “force majeure” clauses.

Relief Programs for Businesses

Labor Relations & Collective Bargaining Agreements

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to concerns regarding labor relations, particularly with respect to changing unionized employees’ work schedules or duties, and employees striking or otherwise refusing to perform work as scheduled.

Mandatory Business Closures and Event Restriction

As of March 30, 2020, the following mandatory closures and event attendance limits have been put into place in Illinois, Missouri and the St. Louis Metropolitan Area:

  • Illinois
    • Shelter-in-Place Order
      • Illinois has ordered residents to shelter in place beginning March 21, 2020 at 5:00pm. This order will continue through April 30, 2020.
      • Persons may leave their homes or place of residence only for Essential Activities (such as seeking medical services, obtaining medical supplies, going to the grocery store), Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses and Operations.
    • All businesses and operations in the State, except Essential Businesses and Operations, are required to cease all activities within the State except Minimum Basic Operations (meaning the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions).
    • Businesses may continue remote operations.
    • All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited.
    • Any gathering of more than ten people is prohibited unless otherwise exempted.
    • All travel, including, but not limited to, travel by automobile, motorcycle, scooter, bicycle, train, plane, or public transit, except Essential Travel and Essential Activities is prohibited.
    • Examples of “Essential Businesses and Operations” include:
      • Healthcare and Public Health Operations
      • Human Services Operations
      • Essential infrastructure (i.e. food productions, distribution, and sale; construction; building management and maintenance; utility operations)
      • Stores that sell groceries and medicine
      • Food, beverage, and cannabis production and agriculture
      • Organizations that provide charitable and social services (such as food banks, shelters)
      • Media
      • Gas stations and businesses need for transportation
      • Financial institutions
      • Hardware and supply stores
      • Critical trades (i.e. plumbers, electricians, security staff, cleaning and janitorial staff)
      • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services
      • Educational institutions
      • Laundry services
      • Restaurants for consumption off-premises
      • Stores that sell supplies to work from and supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations
      • Transportation
      • Home-based care and services
      • Residential facilities and shelters
      • Professional services (i.e. legal services, accounting services)
      • Day care centers for employees exempted from the shelter-in-place order
      • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries
      • Critical labor union functions (i.e. administration of health and welfare funds)
      • Hotels and motels
      • Funeral services
  • Missouri:
    • Missouri is restricting any gatherings statewide to no more than 10 people.
    • Casinos have been instructed to close through March 30, 2020.
  • St. Louis Metropolitan Area:
    • In St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County, all bars have been ordered to close. Restaurant services have been limited to delivery, carry out, and curbside services only. Customers will not be allowed in dining rooms and bars. This ban and limitations will take effect beginning the evening of March 19 and will continue for an undetermined period of time.
    • St. Louis and St. Louis County will require people to shelter-in-place beginning Monday, March 30, 2020. Residents will still be able to go to the grocery store and pharmacy, and will be able to walk in public parks

 


Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. has a team of skilled business and commercial legal experts who can help navigate the complexities of the law in this rapidly changing environment. Feel free to contact us with your legal needs today.
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