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Why Congress Ducked This Covid Legal Fight (for Now)

Drive For $2,000 Checks Bogs Down Senate Despite Trump Push
Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg
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The leader of the U.S. Senate, Republican Mitch McConnell, has warned that a forthcoming wave of litigation over Covid-19 will amount to a “second pandemic.” That’s the basis for a continuing effort in Congress to shield companies from lawsuits filed by workers and consumers who get sick. Though a liability shield ended up being dropped from the economic stimulus measure passed in the final days of 2020, the issue is not going away, and some states have moved to provide their own versions of legal immunity for businesses.

A total of 1,348 lawsuits related to Covid-19 claims had been filed in the U.S. as of Jan. 5, according to Fisher Phillips LLC, a law firm tracking the litigation. Relatively few have been filed by workers who blame their employers after contracting the virus, according to several lawyers who have been following the field. Melissa Camire at Fisher Phillips, said that the most common kinds are cases filed by workers who said they needed, but were denied, time off because they contracted Covid-19 or had to take care of a sick person. The next most common categories were suits in which employment discrimination claims were tied to the pandemic, including claims by parents saying they were fired for taking care of their children, and whistle-blower cases.