Discussion: Companies Will Face Legal Obstacles as They Move Employees Back into the Office, According to the Wall Street Journal

By Matt Cockayne posted 16 days ago

  
Unsurprisingly, many companies have been hesitant to partially re-open their offices due to the risk of employee exposure to COVID-19. These companies also have their own interests in mind as there are many legal implications they could face if employees contract the virus while in the office, which is one reason many enterprises haven't tried opening back up at all.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal - linked here, white-collar workplaces in particular will face liability threats and compliance issues that, until recently, applied more so to industrial settings than offices. The list of guidelines and rules that employers must follow, created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vary at the local and state level.

Some companies think it's worth the risk, as many employees have been looking to return to working in their offices for some time. After months of having its 40 employees working from home, workforce-training company 1Huddle Inc. opened a new headquarters in Newark, N.J., in September. The company instituted a capped attendance (eight people), a mask mandate and also installed a new HVAC system to improve ventilation, and things have been going well. However, other companies haven't been as successful - some are actually facing COVID-related lawsuits.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

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15 days ago

Enterprise leaders certainly have a lot to consider when deciding if and when to bring people back to the office.  While health and safety remain paramount, employee mental health is also an issue, and many people are struggling with remote working as the pandemic stretches on.  Now potential risk of litigation is yet another consideration.  @Lisa Scidurlo- what are you seeing on this front from a legal perspective?  Do you expect more Covid-related litigation to happen as we move into 2021 and people do start going back to the office?​