Kudlow: Businesses shouldn’t be held liable if employees, customers contract coronavirus
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said he supports protecting businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits as the Trump administration eyes reopening the economy.
Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said on CNBC Wednesday that companies and small businesses should not have to deal with “trial lawyers putting on false lawsuits.”
“You’ve got to give the businesses some confidence here that if something happens, and it may not be their fault — the disease is an infectious disease — if something happens, you can’t take them out of business,” Kudlow said.
“You can’t throw big lawsuits at them. And I think liability reforms and safeguards are going to be a very important part of it,” he continued.
The remarks come as business groups frantically lobby Congress to shield corporations from liability lawsuits if customers or employees contract the coronavirus when businesses reopen.
The U.S. Chamber of Congress, a pro-business lobbying group, wrote in an open letter last week that exposure liability was “the largest area of concern for the overall business community” and called for a “safe harbor” from negligence lawsuits.
President Trump said Monday that his administration has not discussed liability protection but indicated he might support such a move.
“But we have tried to take liability away from these companies. We just don’t want that because we want the companies to open and to open strong,” he said at a press conference.
Critics of the move say that shielding companies from litigation could lead them to expose their employees to unnecessary risks during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The whole point of making employers liable for risking the lives of their staff is to prevent them from exposing their staff to undue risk,” tweeted Justin Wolfers, an economics and public policy professor at the University of Michigan. “Businesses are asking for the right to expose their workers to fatal risks with no consequences.”
The whole point of making employers liable for risking the lives of their staff is to prevent them from exposing their staff to undue risk.
Businesses are asking for the right to expose their workers to fatal risks with no consequences. It’s bad economics and bad policy. pic.twitter.com/YX5zGJZ8xX
— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) April 15, 2020
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