LETTER TO THE EDITOR: GNDC Calling for Business Liability Legislation
Over the past three months, COVID-19 has brought uncertainly and stress to our lives. People are worried about their health, their loved ones, and their economic future. The pandemic’s impacts have seeped into every corner of our society and will continue to fester for the foreseeable future, and it could take years before we will see a full economic recovery.
As businesses, small and large, have worked to provide the essential products and services we all rely on, or have recently reopened, they have implemented new health and safety standards put in place by both federal and state governments to protect their employees and customers from COVID-19. These same businesses, whether your frequented coffee shop, your favorite sporting goods store, your internet provider, or numerous state manufacturers all play an important role in helping spur our economic recovery as they provide needed jobs and tax revenue contributing to our economy and moving our state forward.
North Dakota businesses are working to protect jobs, keep their doors open, and be North Dakota smart under a fog of uncertainly. There is a fear that despite their ongoing efforts to comply with changing state and federal safety protocols, their companies are vulnerable to civil liability lawsuits if an employee or customer were to test positive for coronavirus. Whether an organization has 2 employees or 2,000, there is currently no safe harbor against legal liability for businesses who are following the suggested health guidelines.
Decision-makers at all levels of government, need to be aware of the importance that business liability protection provides to organizations as they reopen and begin to work to reinvigorate the economy. The Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC) wants to ensure North Dakota is open for business as well as the rest of the nation. Congress must provide a safe harbor that truly holds poor decisions and ill intentions accountable while protecting businesses that are meeting and, in many cases, exceeding public health guidelines.
GNDC, along with statewide trade associations and local chambers, representing thousands of businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of North Dakotans, are calling for our congressional team to create legislation that protects business and the workers that rely on them. As leaders of our organization, we commend businesses that are tirelessly working and adapting to the ongoing changes and regulations. It is time to support the businesses that support their workforce and the communities in which they reside. It is critical for them to know their ongoing efforts to create safe spaces will safeguard their organizations from needless lawsuits.
Arik Spencer, President and CEO
Jill Berg, Board Chair
Greater North Dakota Chamber