Business

Legal Issues Business Owners Should Know About Before Re-Opening

By
David F. Mills
on
December 7, 2018

Re-opening your business while COVID-19 remains a significant health threat is risky, but the financial ramifications of keeping your business closed may be just as risky. As you prepare to re-open, it is crucial to have a thorough plan. Without a proactive plan to navigate your reopening, you could be blindsided by a legal issue significant enough to take out your business for good.

With fluctuating numbers of positive COVID-19 cases throughout the country, the pandemic is far from over. As people try to navigate social distancing, essential services, and adjust to what may be the new normal, businesses too are challenged with adjusting everything from operating hours and cleaning procedures to the way the business operates. 

The future of your business depends on your re-opening, but how can you ensure your employees and customers are safe without carrying full liability for COVID-19?

Re-opening your business while COVID-19 remains a significant health threat is risky, but the financial ramifications of keeping your business closed may be just as risky. As you prepare to re-open, it is crucial to have a thorough plan. Without a proactive plan to navigate your reopening, you could be blindsided by a legal issue significant enough to take out your business for good.

So, what are the legal issues you need to be prepared for? Here is a shortlist of the most likely issues you should take action to mitigate or eliminate as you plan to reopen.

1. Create A Safe Workplace

Before calling your employees back to the workplace, you need to ensure that there is a safe place for them to work. Review applicable guidelines set forth by federal and local agencies. You may need to adjust workspaces, direct traffic flow, and limit access to breakrooms or other common areas to comply with social distancing guidelines. 

Strained resources may make it difficult to obtain adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for all employees; however, the business cannot open until you can provide, implement, and maintain the necessary health and safety measures to keep both employees and customers safe. Failure to comply with guidelines may result in employees refusing to return to work. Maintaining a safe workplace will limit your liability for unemployment claims and wrongful termination lawsuits.

2. Take Steps To Avoid Claims of Negligence

If one of your employees or customers contracts COVID-19 at your place of business, could you be liable? It is certainly possible.

While a negligence lawsuit may carry a difficult burden for the plaintiff to overcome, it could still lead to a costly legal battle. Although, if your business is not in compliance with federal and state guidelines and multiple infections are tied to your workplace, a claim of negligence may not be so difficult to prove.

Employees who contract COVID-19 during employment may have a worker’s compensation claim. Even if it does not amount to a lawsuit, having someone contract COVID-19 either while at your business or coming into your business already infected, you may be required to close your business again causing further financial strain.

3. Proactively Address Contractual Issues

COVID-19 related closures, delays, and cancellations should be covered in your contracts by a force majeure or Act of God clause. Review your standard contract language and make sure to protect yourself from liability by addressing these situations. Whether you are reviewing existing contracts or drafting new ones, it is important to understand what liability you carry if the pandemic impedes performance.

Contact A Business Bankruptcy Attorney

If you have questions about re-opening your business, or what might happen if you are unable to, contact our office today for a free consultation. Our North Carolina bankruptcy attorneys work with small businesses throughout the state to effectively handle debt and financial pressure caused by COVID-19.


Tags:
No items found.