Can California Employers be liable for spreading COVID-19 at home?

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Employers may not be out of the trenches when it comes to possible legal liability relating to COVID-19. The Supreme Court of California has recently agreed to consider two novel issues relating to employer liability and COVID-19. The questions the Court will be considering are:

  1. If an employee contracts COVID-19 at their workplace and brings the virus home to their spouse and infects them, is the employer liable?
  2. Under California law, does an employee owe a duty to the households of its employees to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

The Ninth Circuit certified these questions for California’s top state court to review in Kuciemba v. Victory Woodworks, No. 21-15963 (9th Cir. 2022) after an appeal of a Northern District of California judge’s dismissal.

In Kuciemba v. Victory Woodworks, the employee and his spouse claimed that the company’s policies relating to COVID-19 and safety within the workplace were negligent. The employee further claimed that this led to the employee being exposed to and contracting COVID-19 in the workplace, which he then brought home and transmitted to his wife, causing her to become very sick.

The answer to the above questions could have a huge impact on employers. Even if COVID-19 infection rates are decreasing, the legal implications of the virus’ continued existence are here to stay. This is a great reminder to ensure your business is complying with, and has implemented all, mandatory state and federal COVID-19 safety regulations. We will monitor this case and provide any critical updates relating to the same.

If you have any further questions regarding the legal liability of spreading COVID-19, please contact us at info@mnklawyers.com.

This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between MNK Law and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material.

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