Young woman wearing face mask in the street.

Face Coverings – The Subject Of New Lawsuits Across the United States

DISCLOSURE

Take into account that San Diego County is not subject to out-of-state laws and court decisions. This following article deals with face masks in Dallas, Texas. Nevertheless, this is shared for the purpose of posting what new disputes are arising in connection to COVID-19 matters, namely face mask wearing policies. If such lawsuits develop in California, it can be expected for judges to use these out-of-state issues for guidance.  It is also posted to help employers understand what liabilities can result from face covering policies and procedures within business operations.

JANE DOE v. HILLSTONE RESTAURANT GROUP

In the State of Texas, the state has not mandated face-coverings for restaurant workers. Some cities within the state have enacted face-covering mandates. Hillstone Restaurant Group employs Jane Doe. Jane Doe wished to work while wearing a face mask. However, her employer disapproved of such measure and in response did not schedule her for work. That became company policy. Jane Doe filed a petition to dispute the company’s policy forbidding wearing masks while at work. A Texas judge issued an order requiring Hillstone to allow employees to wear masks. Such an order was in effect for 14 days. This 14-day order served as a temporary restraining order allowing Jane Doe to work while she seeks out a more permanent solution, or more permanent legal claim as needed if the employer elects to refer back to its policy.

Seeing what is occurring on the legal front across the nation, employers in San Diego County are recommended to avoid legal claims by not refusing an employee to wear a face covering while at work. Seek out local orders (city, county, and state) to see the latest requirements and mandates for businesses actively open to the public.

CDC RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING FACE COVERINGS

It is also recommended to seek out CDC guidance concerning the subject matter.  As of the date of this publication, the CDC currently states on their website:

  • “CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
  • “The CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”
  • Link

READ MORE

 

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Get An idea of How San Diego County is Doing With COVID-19 (Stage 2 of 4)

Resilience Roadmap

Californians have been staying home and saving lives since the start of our statewide stay-at-home order issued on March 19, 2020. These efforts have allowed the state to move forward on the State’s roadmap for modifying the statewide order.

As of the date of this publication, California is now in early Stage 2, where retail, related logistics and manufacturing, office workplaces, limited personal services, outdoor museums, child care, and essential businesses can open with modifications. The state is issuing guidance to help these workplaces reopen safely.

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Stage 2

On May 8th, the Governor outlined a process where counties who met specific criteria could move more quickly than other parts of the state through Stage 2 of modifying the Stay-at-Home order.

San Diego County filed an Attestation that they have met the readiness criteria specified in the May 8, 2020 COVID-19 County Variance Attestation Form. Accordingly, San Diego County was authorized to move more quickly through Stage 2 opening sectors once state guidance is posted for that sector.

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REVIEW THE ATTESTATION: San Diego County (PDF) / Alternative Link
I encourage you to read it. It is similar to an informal “state of the county” update.

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5 Steps to Safely Re-Open Your Business in San Diego County Amid COVID-19

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. A pandemic is defined as a global spread of a new disease often applied when viruses are able to infect people easily and spread from person to person in an efficient and sustained way. On March 19, 2020, an executive order and public health order directed all Californians to stay home except to go to an essential job or shop for essential needs to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 among the population. However, not all businesses came to a halt. Essential services were still in operation and the State of California published some guidance on how to maintain those operations open. Over time in the months of April and May, 2020, the State has continued its publication of industry guidance offering recommendations on how to best re-open amid COVID-19.

If your business is in the process of re-opening or recently re-opened, use the next 5-steps as guidance and a minimum criteria for adhering to State, county, and city (or incorporate area) imposed measures.

1. Review the State’s Resilience Roadmap. Confirm that the State is re-opening your industry. As of May 27, 2020, the following sectors, businesses, establishments, or activities are not permitted to operate in the State of California at this time:

  • Personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios
  • Indoor museums, kids museums, gallery spaces, zoos and libraries
  • Community centers, including public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas
  • Entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, gaming, gambling, arcade venues, pro sports,
  • Hospitality services, such as bars, wineries, tasting rooms and lounges
  • Nightclubs
  • Concert venues
  • Live audience sports
  • Festivals
  • Theme parks
  • Hotels/lodging for leisure and tourism – non-essential travel
  • Higher Education

2. Review State-Published Materials to Help Reduce Risk. Begin implementing your own company measures.

“Before reopening, all facilities must:

  1. Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan
  2. Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them
  3. Implement individual control measures and screenings
  4. Implement disinfecting protocols
  5. Implement physical distancing guidelines

It is critical that employees needing to self-isolate because of COVID-19 are encouraged to stay at home, with sick leave policies to support that, to prevent further infection in your workplace. See additional information on government programs supporting sick leave and worker’s compensation for COVID-19.”

3. Revisit A Few Industry-Specific Measures.  The State of California has issued guidance on how to safely re-open your business. Be mindful of the publication dates. Updates may be available since publishing this information. Note that some of these publications are only guidelines intended to provide recommended practices to best help reduce the exposure and infection of COVID-19.

4. Turn to Industry-Based Guidance and Publications. Associations, coalitions, and other industry-specific group exist for the purpose of providing guidance on how safely re-open your business when the State of California permits.

5. Seek Out Professional Advice As Needed. This includes turning to your attorneys, insurance agents, financial advisors, business consultants, human resource outsourced consultants, accountants, bookkeepers, your networks and so on to get your affairs in order and be in the know. Each office has spent the last few months brushing up on how COVID-19 will impact your business from their respective professional background. Now is the time to revisit your network.

NOTE: This is only a suggested series of steps to take. Actual opening measures will vary depending on your business and the many variables involved in operating in California. Be sure to comply with local and state measures as they become published in the following months.

 

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CA Executive Order: If Workers Contract COVID-19, It Is Presumed to be Work-Related Without Proof Required

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. A pandemic is defined as a global spread of a new disease often applied when viruses are able to infect people easily and spread from person to person in an efficient and sustained way. On March 19, 2020, an executive order and public health order directed all Californians to stay home except to go to an essential job or shop for essential needs to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 among the population.

During the last few months (March, April, May 2020), several executive orders have been implemented to protect working personnel during COVID-19 times. For example, see Executive Order N-62-20:

REBUTTABLE PRESUMPTION:

“1. Any COVID-19-related illness of an employee shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment for purposes of awarding workers’ compensation benefits if all of the following requirements are satisfied:

a. The employee tested positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days after a day that the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction;

b. The day referenced in subparagraph (a) on which the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction was on or after March 19, 2020;

c.The employee’s place of employment referenced in subparagraphs (a) and (b) was not the employee’s home or residence; and

d.Where subparagraph (a) is satisfied through a diagnosis of COVID-19, the diagnosis was done by a physician who holds a physician and surgeon license issued by the California Medical Board and that diagnosis is confirmed by further testing within 30 days of the date of the diagnosis.

2. The presumption set forth in Paragraph 1 is disputable and may be controverted by other evidence, but unless so controverted, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board is bound to find in accordance with it. This presumption shall only apply to dates of injury occurring through 60 days following the date of this Order. …”

Read More:

State link: https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/5.6.20-EO-N-62-20-text.pdf

Alternate Link

 

 

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Business Law: Companies/Employers Using COVID-19 Liability Waivers

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. A pandemic is defined as a global spread of a new disease often applied when viruses are able to infect people easily and spread from person to person in an efficient and sustained way. On March 19, 2020, an executive order and public health order directed all Californians to stay home except to go to an essential job or shop for essential needs to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 among the population. On May 20, 2020, the County of San Diego developed guidelines for businesses such as restaurants and retail businesses to open safely to have customers in the premises with restrictions. On May 24, 2020, the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology developed guidelines for hair salons to open safely.  This all means that as of late May, 2020, businesses are starting to re-open, of course, with safety measures required. It is expected for larger organizations and theme parks open in late June 2020 or early July 2020.

Waivers

With employees returning to work, businesses are looking to limit liability related to COVID-19 exposures. A few calls and questions I have received include:

  • Can I issue COVID-19 liability waivers for employees to sign?
  • If an employee refuses to sign a COVID-19 liability waiver, must I still let them work?
  • Can I ask customers/clients to sign COVID-19 liability waivers before entering my business?
  • Are COVID-19 liability waivers enforceable?
  • What can I include as part of my COVID-19 liability waiver?

Generally speaking, liability wavers are permitted but enforceability depends on its contents and what exactly an employer is trying to limit liability from. There are certain risks, hazards, and employee rights that an employer cannot lawfully shield themselves from. For the latter part of the sentence, think worker’s compensation rights and other statutory rights afforded to California employees. Look out for specific executive orders passed in March, April, May, June 2020.

Enforceability of such waivers have not yet been tested through the court system and it is not yet known if courts will limit what an employer can include in such waiver.

Even with signed waivers, employers need to focus primarily on implementing safety and security measures imposed at the city, county, and state level. These include at minimum: (i) physical distancing, (ii) use of face coverings by workers and customers, (iii) frequent handwashing and regular cleaning and disinfection, and (iv) training workers on these and other elements of the COVID-19 prevention plan.

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Amid COVID-19, Does Your Office Offer Legal Consultations Via Phone or Zoom (Video Conference)?

As COVID-19 unleashed a health crisis on an international scale, an economic crisis has also occurred and has impacted every single Californian/American. While COVID-19’s stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements are still in place in Southern California, questions concerning legal matters have continued well through March, April, and May, 2020. These are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Question: Amid COVID-19, does your office offer legal consultations via Phone or Zoom (Video Conference)?

Answer: Yes, of course. Traditionally, my office offers in-office consultations and phone consultations as preferred methods. With the office building closed amid COVID-19, technology has temporarily replaced in-office consultations. Therefore, if you prefer a consultation via Zoom (or other video conference method) over the telephone option, let’s schedule that.

Email ruth@ryancruzlaw.com or dial 619-528-2202 to schedule a consultation.

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Amid COVID-19, Can I Initiate a New Legal Transaction?

As COVID-19 unleashed a health crisis on an international scale, an economic crisis has also occurred and has impacted every single Californian/American. While COVID-19’s stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements are still in place in Southern California, questions concerning legal matters have continued well through March, April, and May, 2020. These are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Question: Amid COVID-19, Can I Initiate a New Legal Transaction?

Answer: Yes, of course. I’ve received a few calls where potential clients have a new legal problem and did not know whether these can be dealt with amid COVID-19. Matters involved creating new contracts, establishing new professional relationships, developing new workplace policies, business debt-management, and several others. If you have a new legal matter and are unsure how to handle it during COVID-19, call in and receive a consultation. Consultations offer guidance allowing you to make an informed decision to handle your legal matters.

Email ruth@ryancruzlaw.com or dial in 619-528-2202

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Amid COVID-19, Are You Still Networking and Participating in Presentations?

As COVID-19 unleashed a health crisis on an international scale, an economic crisis has also occurred and has impacted every single Californian/American. While COVID-19’s stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements are still in place in Southern California, questions concerning legal matters have continued well through March, April, and May, 2020. These are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Question: Amid COVID-19, are you still networking and participating in presentations?

Answer: Yes, absolutely. COVID-19 or not, the successful practice of law requires an expansive network involving professionals of all types and in various industries. I’m still actively participating in the groups featured on this website and with professionals locally and regionally, with a direct and indirect impact to my practice areas. During this time, I’m actively expanding my network in preparation of an anticipated uptick in legal matters following the San Diego Court’s soft re-opening on May 26th following Memorial Day.

Interested in being part of my network? Email me at ruth@ryancruzlaw.com or dial 619-528-2202. Start the call letting me know your intent and we’ll take it from there.

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Amid COVID-19, Are Your Offices Still Open For Legal Consultations?

As COVID-19 unleashed a health crisis on an international scale, an economic crisis has also occurred and has impacted every single Californian/American. While COVID-19’s stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements are still in place in Southern California, questions concerning legal matters have continued well through March, April, and May, 2020. These are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Question: Are your offices still open for legal consultations amid COVID-19?

Answer: Services are still being offered, yes. The office building in Mission Valley remains closed for the time being, but that should be opening up fairly soon based on county measures. The last few months, services are being offered remotely. Most matters can still be dealt with. In the event matters cannot proceed, you will be advised on how/when to proceed.

Email ruth@ryancruzlaw.com to schedule a free consultation or dial 619-528-2202. Typical response time is same-day and next-day. In the event you do not get an immediate response, you are encouraged to dial back in.

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Ryan-Cruz Law, APC announces participation in the Spring, 2020 Wills for Heroes Program

We’re proud to announce that Ryan-Cruz Law, APC is actively volunteering in the Spring, 2020 Wills for Heroes Program. Pass the word! Hopefully you know a hero in need of this program.

Here’s more information about the Wills for Heroes program as published by the San Diego County Bar Association:
“FREE PREPARATION OF WILLS & MORE FOR SAN DIEGO’S HEROES
Attention San Diego First Responders and Healthcare Workers:
Register for your FREE virtual appointment with an SDCBA Estate Planning Attorney.”

“The San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA) is teaming up with the Wills for Heroes Foundation once again to give back to our local Heroes — firefighters, police officers, and other first responders in San Diego County, as well as healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. We want to thank you for the sacrifices you make every day to protect all of us. Your work is truly heroic.To show our gratitude, we’re offering you free preparation of essential legal documents by SDCBA member attorneys, including:

•Wills
•Advance health care directives
•Durable powers of attorney

How to qualify:Heroes and their spouses/partners qualify if their estate has a net worth less than $500,000, including cash, personal property, stocks and bonds, real estate (equity only), and savings, as well as the cash value of life insurance policies and retirement assets such as a 401(k) or an IRA. If the net worth of your estate exceeds $500,000, please consider retaining one of the qualified attorneys in our Lawyer Referral Service.”

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