Business lobbyists are trying to secure legal protections from Congress to ensure that companies aren't held liable for coronavirus-related damages when they reopen.
Donald Trump and his administration are working to make it impossible for workers to sue their employers if they contract the novel coronavirus on the job.
"We have tried to take liability away from these companies," Trump said at his Monday coronavirus press briefing. "We just don't want that because we want the companies to open and to open strong."
The push to take away workers' rights comes as Trump has called for an end to the social distancing measures that have slowed the spread of the coronavirus but crippled the economy — even though a majority of Americans think it's too soon to lift the stay-at-home orders, and public health experts say sending people back to work now could lead to a resurgence of the virus.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that business lobbyists are trying to secure legal protections from Congress to ensure that companies aren't held liable for coronavirus-related damages when they reopen.
Trump on Monday claimed his administration hasn't discussed giving liability waivers, which would ensure employers could not be sued by employees who contract the coronavirus at work.
However, a report from the Washington Post notes that the Trump administration is looking into such waivers.
The Post also reported that the administration wants to block customers from suing an employee of a business if they contract the virus from that worker — for example, if someone contracts it from a waiter or a delivery driver.
The push to end worker protections would need Democratic support to succeed — which it is unlikely to get.
Democrats have been fighting to implement more safeguards for employees.
For example, Senate Democrats have proposed legislation to give essential workers — doctors, nurses, janitors at hospitals, and grocery store workers, among others — up to $25,000 in hazard pay through 2020.
"As the COVID pandemic has reached alarming new levels, our health care system is strained to the max, our economy is strained to the max. Doctors and nurses, medical personnel of all types are putting their lives on the line every single day to fight this disease and save others," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said April 7 when he introduced the proposal, which he said was called the "Heroes Fund."
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is panning the coronavirus relief package passed last month, saying it's paying some low-wage laid-off workers — such as waiters and waitresses — more than they would have made if they were still working.
"I want to make people whole who lost their job through no fault of their own," Graham tweeted Tuesday morning. "But I don't want to pay people more NOT to work than to actually go to work."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.