WASHINGTON—Congress needs to act soon to protect businesses that have taken necessary precautions to protect employees and customers from COVID-19 while providing goods and services. NACS leads a broad coalition of 37 industry associations who are seeking a legislative fix for liability.
In a letter sent this week to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), NACS along with 36 associations asked Congress to address the issue of liability during the pandemic in the next piece of COVID-19 legislation.
“Throughout this public health crisis, these companies and their employees have strived to support their fellow Americans by providing them with many necessities of life: food, water and beverages, medication, fuel, and other goods and services, including financial services,” the letter states. “Businesses have worked hard to serve their communities, overcoming numerous hurdles, such as constantly changing health guidelines and supply shortages, in order to do so. These businesses that have taken responsible steps to mitigate the spread of the virus should not face costly and harmful litigation simply because they are open to the public during a time when we all face a highly contagious virus.”
NACS and the signatories support the SAFE TO WORK Act in the Senate and the Get America Back to Work Act in the House, both of which shield all businesses that make an effort to protect customers and workers from the coronavirus from lawsuits. “We are not asking lawmakers to shield bad actors. Liability protection should not be given to any business that willfully ignored the risks of the spread of COVID-19 and committed gross negligence,” the letter continues. “Rather, businesses that made reasonable, good faith efforts to keep their doors open in a way that was safe for their communities should be protected from liability.”
The letter concluded, “Please protect the businesses that have gone to extraordinary lengths to support this nation and its citizens during this perilous time. It would be tragic if businesses that had kept their doors open to serve their communities were forced to close because of the high costs of dealing with frivolous lawsuits.”
In May, NACS Chairman and CEO Kevin Smartt testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the need for bipartisan legislation protecting businesses who took necessary precaution from frivolous lawsuits.
Retailers should be sure to go back and watch the education session “Motivating and Protecting Your Frontline,” part of the NACS Crack the Code Experience, for more insight into how your business can protect both your customers and employees. You can still register for your own NACS Crack the Code Experience, giving you access to this session and many more. The NACS Crack the Code Experience runs through December 4, and features 24/7 access to forward-looking ideas and insights, plus innovative new-to-channel products and strategic connections.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.