No Panacea for COVID-19 Liability Concerns for Employers and Their Staff
During the week of May 11, 2020, many Nevada businesses began taking preliminary steps to reopen following pervasive COVID-19 pandemic closures. Like similarly situated entities throughout the country (and around the world), Nevada’s businesses are navigating a difficult, uncertain, and unprecedented climate as they strive to get back to work. Governor Sisolak’s recent “Roadmap to Recovery for Nevada,” along with ever-changing governmental and administrative guidance, provide some direction for businesses, but it remains painfully apparent that much remains unknown.
The palpable stress associated with these “unknowns” is on display throughout the State, with businesses and their employees seeking to insulate themselves from liability associated with the novel Coronavirus. In that vein, the week of May 11, 2020, saw reporting on businesses requiring employees to execute sweeping liability releases as a prerequisite to returning to work. One prominent Southern Nevada restaurant chain, in particular, caught media attention for having its employee’s sign contracts waiving any and all legal rights they may have against the business “in returning to work amidst the coronavirus pandemic.” While the business’s concern and intent with the release make sense, the implementation appears to have been problematic, eliciting lukewarm-to-negative reactions from the media and legal community.