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CA Supreme Court Set Bounds on an Employer’s Duty to Non-Workers

The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled last week that employers are not liable for cases in which workers contract Covid-19 at work and spread it to their in-home family members. The Court held that holding employers responsible for such situations, sometimes called “take-home COVID”, would be unduly burdensome both on companies and on the legal system itself.

The case, Kuciemba, et al. v. Victory Woodworks, centered around a San Francisco employee named Robert Kuciemba who allegedly contracted Covid-19 in the workplace due to his employer, Victory Woodworks, not following city health guidance. Mr. Kuciemba then transmitted the virus to his wife, Corby, who was at high risk from the disease due to her age and health.

The Court’s opinion emphasized the logistical impacts of a potential plaintiff’s verdict: “Even limiting a duty of care to employees’ household members, the pool of potential plaintiffs would be enormous, numbering not thousands but millions of Californians.” The Court also noted that the nature of Covid-19 itself played a part, as even “perfect implementation of best practices” in no way guarantees safety for all employees.

While this ruling helps to limit potential liability for employers, it is imperative that public health protocols are followed both with regard to Covid-19 and Cal-OSHA requirements. To review your employee safety protocols to ensure that you are compliant with California labor laws, please contact the Employer Lawyers at Chauvel & Glatt.

The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes.  For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500. (photo credit: Depositphotos.com)

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