As small business owners reopen their doors, there are growing concerns about lawsuits. Even by taking every recommended precaution, operating in the “new normal” leaves a lot of uncertainty and fear of getting sued from customers who get sick with COVID-19.
After tracking more than 1,000 COVID-related lawsuits against businesses nationwide, the International Franchise Association (IFA) along with more than 7,000 franchise advocates petitioned Congress. The IFA called for protection of America’s franchises from unjust lawsuits and for short-term liability safe harbors to small businesses that take all good-faith efforts to combat COVID-19.
The letter states: “During the coronavirus crisis, franchise businesses have been serving as modern-day “Good Samaritans;” we have been sanitizing health facilities, providing groceries, feeding essential workers, and offering other critical products and services – all at significant health risk to ourselves and our colleagues. Given the historic efforts of Congress and the Administration to provide the necessary liquidity to franchise businesses so we can stay afloat during these critical days, it would be devastating to have these same franchise employers facing a series of unjust lawsuits as the economy revives.”
With no way to prove if a customer caught the virus from a specific establishment, the uncertainty and implications without protection could be devastating for franchise owners. In an interview with CNBC’s Kate Rogers, IFA President Robert Cresanti said, “Having to face lawsuits because someone got sick could put business owners in a situation of mere hopelessness.”