ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Essential businesses like convenience stores have remained open over the past six weeks, leaving their employees exposed to the novel coronavirus as well as leaving the companies exposed to litigation, according to NACS.
The convenience store industry has continued its operations during the crisis as part of the critical infrastructure workforce, as designated by the Department of Homeland Security, the association explained. In addition to meeting consumer demand for fuel, groceries, over-the-counter medication and cleaning suppliers — among other necessities — retailers have increased cleaning and sanitary procedures at c-stores to protect both employees and customers.
Despite these efforts, there are some plaintiffs' attorneys who are running TV ads looking to build class action lawsuits against essential businesses that have stayed open during the crisis, NACS noted.
In a bid to protect c-store retailers from individuals alleging they were exposed to COVID-19 at these businesses, the association is supporting legislation that provides liability protections for essential businesses from claims related to COVID-19 exposure, provided businesses were not grossly negligent.
NACS is advocating that Congress include reasonable liability legislation in a phase four stimulus package. While this legislation would have to pass both chambers of Congress, the White House has indicated that it supports liability protections as America discusses steps to re-open the economy, it added.