Coronavirus Waivers: Be Cautious About Signing, Consumer Reports Says

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July 11, 2020
Coronavirus Waivers: Be Cautious About Signing, Consumer Reports Says
Scott Medintz of Consumer Reports raises some timely and important questions. Even as coronavirus cases climb across the nation, many businesses are trying to reopen, and some are doing so with a new twist—asking customers to sign documents waiving their right to sue in the event that they contract COVID-19 on the premises. At the same time, some companies are asking employees to sign COVID-19 waivers, hoping to limit their liability if workers catch the virus at work. Should you sign such a waiver? Can your employer force you to sign one in order to return to work? And what rights are you giving up if you do?
As a consumer I would be exceptionally cautious about a business that tries to limit their liability under these circumstances. Be inquisitive. Ask questions. Are they conducting themselves prudently or are they just cutting corners figuring a waiver will protect them from responsibility? As a consumer remember that you can always walk away unless the product or service you seek is so unique that you can’t obtain it elsewhere. In which case, dig deep and think twice before signing.
As a potential employee, check and see if any of the terms of the employment waiver are negotiable. What happens if you contract the virus and become disabled? What are your rights and obligations? Laws change across the country and I recommend you check with counsel if faced with this dilemma.
Richard Smukler, Mediator/Arbitrator, (561) 866-1688