Lawsuits of Last Resort: Employees Fight for Safe Workplaces during COVID-19
2 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2020 Last revised: 19 Aug 2020
Date Written: July 29, 2020
A worker whose employer is failing to provide adequate protections against SARS-CoV-2 generally has little legal recourse. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is charged with ensuring safe and healthful workplaces, has refused to enact an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19. Furthermore, OSHA has issued only two minor citations against employers for violating existing regulations, despite thousands of illnesses and deaths among essential workers in high-risk positions. A possible “last resort” legal strategy is to sue under public nuisance law, but these actions are usually reserved for governmental entities and often precluded by the existence of a statute that addresses the general issue.
Keywords: CDC, COVID-19, Occupational health, OSHA, Public nuisance, SARS-CoV-2
JEL Classification: K31, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation