Special Update! Chamber Championed COVID-19 Liability and Unemployment Bills Go to Governor
After days of bipartisan negotiations, the COVID-19 liability bills the Michigan Chamber has been pushing were sent to Governor Whitmer’s desk. The bills provide legal immunity to businesses, nonprofits and others who are in compliance with federal and state statutes and regulations related to COVID-19.
Across our state, businesses, nonprofits, child care, academic facilities and the medical community have invested resources, time and energy in complying with public health requirements and operating in a safe manner. This legislation is good news for entities that have made these investments and allows them to proceed with confidence that they will not be the target of an unwarranted lawsuit brought by personal injury lawyers seeking to capitalize on the pandemic.
The legislation specifies a person who acts in compliance with all federal, state, and local statutes, rules, regulations, executive orders and agency orders related to COVID-19 in effect at the time of the conduct or risk that allegedly caused harm is immune from liability for a COVID-19 claim. The bill defines “person” as an individual, partnership, corporation, association, governmental entity or other legal entity, including, but not limited to, a school, a college or university, an institution of higher education and a nonprofit charitable organization. It also includes an employee, agent or independent contractor of the person, regardless of whether the individual is paid or an unpaid volunteer.
Another bill in the bill package makes similar changes to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act and another yet codifies the Governor’s Executive Order that prohibits discharge, discipline, or retaliation against employees who stay home because they test positive, display the principal symptoms or have had close contact with an individual who tests positive or displays the principal symptoms.
Although the bills do not include all of the protections we were seeking, including added protections for companies that stepped up to make or donate personal protection equipment (PPE) in response to the pandemic, we will continue to pursue these changes moving forward because they are important. Despite our best efforts, the Governor’s office unfortunately took the position that providing these protections to the businesses that stepped up were not needed and took a hardline stance
onagainst including these provisions during these negotiations.
The bills provide protections retroactive to March 1, 2020.
Please let Wendy Block know if you have any questions about this legislation.