Proposed Safe To Work Act would protect employers from coronavirus-related lawsuits


MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A proposed bill could protect employers when it comes to lawsuits related to the coronavirus.

The Safe to Work act would provide liability protection to businesses following national and state COVID-19 guidelines.

The bill would serve as a five-year “shield” for businesses, healthcare providers, and schools. Employers and employees would benefit as safety awareness would enhance and serve as liability protection.

The pandemic has created a change of pace for businesses the last several months, even for the 40-year historic Myrtle Beach landmark, The Bowery.

“Everybody needs protection because right now or in this country and world, everything is about a lawsuit,” Owner Victor Shamah said. “I don’t see how anybody could ever tell you where they got the COVID-19 virus.”

More than 30 states have passed safe harbor provisions. South Carolina is not one of those states yet, according to Tedd Pitts, President, and CEO of South Carolina’s Chamber of Commerce.

South Carolina businesses don’t have liability protection from a state or federal level currently. The concern from businesses following all COVID-19 guidelines comes if an employee or customer accuses the employer of catching the virus in the workplace.

“What’s likely to happen it after we get through the pandemic or at least the phase we are in now I think you will see people try to sue a business, school, or employer,” Pitts said.

As schools get ready to start back, there is a lot of concern if somebody catches the virus, they may try to say they got it at the school, even if it’s undetermined.

Schools and institutions that follow COVID-19 guidelines would gain protection while safely reopening. The establishment would be protected from somebody filing a lawsuit saying they endangered them.

South Carolina’s Attorney General Alan Wilson, meanwhile, along with 21 other state attorney generals, co-signed a letter to urge Congress to adopt safe to work act provisions.

“You’re starting to see this nationally, is that lawsuits will start to pile up,” Pitts said. “Many South Carolina small businesses are one lawsuit away from going out of business permanently.”

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