COVID-19 Litigation Concerns Resulting from Businesses Reopening

COVID-19 Litigation Concerns Resulting from Businesses Reopening

By Nicole Duke and Thomas M. Bona. As states begin to reopen, some businesses are choosing to delay opening their doors. Business owners are considering the risk of a wave of lawsuits that may be filed as a result of deciding to begin work. Employers face potential liability not only from employees who may contract COVID-19 on the job, but also from customers who believe they were exposed by employees. As quoted by Todd Maisch, head of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, “[f]or an employer wanting to get back to normal business, this could be the third crisis facing the nation. The first being the health crisis, the second being the economic crisis, the third being years of a liability crisis.”[1] Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are concerning for businesses that are already suffering financially from shutdowns. Though owners are attempting to protect themselves, this is an unprecedented situation that the Courts will have to face, and responses may vary state to state. In April, Georgia was at the forefront of the push to reopen. On April 24, 2020 Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an order reopening certain businesses including hair salons. The salons that have chosen to reopen have set up strict protocols. For example, a single customer may be allowed in a shop at a time and customers must agree to temperature checks before being permitted to enter. Focus on sanitary conditions is even more stringent than usual, and employees and clients must wear masks. Nevertheless, business owners are still concerned with potential litigation if either an employee or customer was to contract the virus. A...
Cybersecurity: Be Vigilant and Be Prepared

Cybersecurity: Be Vigilant and Be Prepared

By Nicole Duke and Thomas M. Bona. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way society lives and conducts business. The rapid and unprecedented shift to remote working has opened businesses to new dangers and liabilities. One of the most pressing of these dangers is the increased risk of cyber attack. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has called attention to an increase in cyber-crime activity, targeting overburdened information technology systems and vulnerable work from home remote setups.  Further, the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has published a formal alert that cyber-criminals are targeting individuals and businesses through email and phishing scams. These phishing emails contain false updates and information regarding COVID-19 that an employee may open, exposing the system to risk. In addition to phishing scams, employees working remotely may log in using less secure hardware and software than an office setting provides, which may provide an easier pathway for cyber-criminals to enter a system. Employers should also be aware that with a majority of employees logging in remotely, it is easier for a cyber-criminal or “hacker” to blend in and secretly access systems. This leaves not only employer data at risk of being stolen, but sensitive client data as well. No business is immune to this increased risk of cyber attack, and high profile organizations have already suffered as a result of cyber-crime. One such example is the cyber attack on a medical facility tasked with working on a COVID-19 vaccine, leading to the publication of sensitive patient data. Businesses should plan a response to possible cyber attacks and consider the difficulty in...