Coronavirus: U.S. Chamber Calls Trump, Congress to Protect Businesses that ‘Require Employees to Engage in Proper Hygiene’

By Craig Bannister | March 16, 2020 | 4:07pm EDT
U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue (Screenshot)

New legislation is needed to protect businesses that establish and enforce hygiene standards for their employees in light of the coronavirus threat to workers and the customers they come into contact with, the U.S. Chamber of Congress told President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday.

In a letter to Trump, Pelosi and McConnell, Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue calls for new law to protect employers from employee lawsuits when business institute hygiene standards:

“Congress should enact liability protection legislation that will allow businesses to require employees to engage in proper hygiene procedures.”

In particular, the new law should protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits by employees over company hygiene rules, the Chamber says:

“Congress should enact legislation that ensures employers who implement practices to reduce the risk of the Coronavirus in the workplace are protected against frivolous litigation.”

The main thrust of the letter, however, is to advocate three measures to help businesses during the coronavirus outbreak:

  1. “Enact legislation cancelling the payment of all payroll taxes typically paid by employers for the months of March, April, and May,”
  2. “Enact legislation expanding and streamlining loan programs for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees experiencing revenue loss as a result of the Coronavirus,”
  3. “Enact legislation enabling the creation of credit facilities to provide loans and loan guarantees to employers with more than 500 employees experiencing significant revenue loss as a result of the Coronavirus.”

The letter also requests the suspension of the Trump Administration’s “Buy American” rules:

“The Administration should defer any plans to expand ‘Buy American’ rules. Such a move would immediately exacerbate shortages of pharmaceutical products, medical equipment, and other critical goods.”

Additionally, the Chamber asks for the government to “take steps to combat price gouging” amid the coronavirus crisis:

“The Administration and Congress should take steps to combat price gouging on goods critical to containing the Coronavirus, especially holding accountable parties who profit from stolen and counterfeit goods.”

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