On Monday, November 30, 2020, Governor Wolf vetoed House Bill 1737. House Bill 1737 proposed civil liability immunity for businesses during the pandemic. In his veto, Governor Wolf explained that the proposed legislation was broad and overreaching. “Shielding entities from liability in such a broad fashion as provided under this bill invites the potential for carelessness and a disregard for public safety.” Governor Wolf went on to say quite pointedly:
Providing immunity for a business that does not rigorously comply with public health orders does not ensure the safety of the public, its employees and it is not in the public interest. At a time when the COVID-19 virus is spreading rapidly, we need to be taking measures to ensure compliance with public health orders and improve safety practices. We should not be providing protection for noncompliance or carelessness.
This is strong language, and employers must be aware. As stated above, the Governor essentially heeds a warning to businesses that if they are not taking measures to ensure they are compliant with the public health orders, they are exposed to civil liability.
Governor Wolf included some suggestions as to what a possible civil liability immunity could look like. He explained that, “COVID-19 immunity protections need to be paired with worker protections, including paid sick leave for employees.” Governor Wolf seems to be insinuating that in order for any civil liability immunity to pass, the bill must require businesses to implement worker protections and even paid sick leave. It is clear that the Governor will not just pass a business immunity with no strings attached.
Pennsylvania employers must heed the call of this veto and ensure that there are COVID-19 policies and procedures in place. For more information on the requirements of the Pennsylvania Orders, check out my previous blogs. Specifically, check out my blog on the Pennsylvania Worker Protection Order.
ABOUT SUSIE CIRILLI
Susie M. Cirilli is a Labor & Employment attorney that assists clients with issues involving the ADA, FMLA, and Title VII claims. Susie litigates on matters related to hostile work environment, discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, race and disability. Susie has experience representing employers in fact-finding conferences and mediations before the PHRC and the EEOC. Susie’s practice also consists of counseling and advising clients on employment matters. She often advises employers on day to day employment matters and assists her clients on employee issues such as hiring and terminations, which includes drafting and negotiating separation agreements. Susie has experience drafting and revising employment agreements, employee handbooks, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements. Susie is admitted in the Middle District and Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She is also admitted in the Federal Court for the District of New Jersey.
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