The litigation for Covid-19 has started, where will it go for employers and business?

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As sure as water flows downhill it was inevitable that litigation would flow from the pandemic as lawyers sharpen their teeth and let the blame game begin! 

I was prompted to write this as I have had a flurry of interest from the PE and VC community, which is great, and they share our theory that Covid will accelerate the move to spaces wanting analytics about what is happening.

Their theory however of one of the prime reasons was not one I had thought off, protection from lawsuits

Many have been filed already including against companies like McDonald’s, Walmart, Safeway, and others in the US and I think most people would assume the US is the most litigious country of the world but they would be wrong, as a ranking of top 10 the US comes in at number 5 with Germany at number 1.

Therefore unsurprisingly the country pipping the US in the top 10, Austria at number 4 also has a class action lawsuit rumbling against a ski resort and momentum is building across the rest of Europe with some describing it as the next asbestos. 

Many countries are looking to move to bring some level of protection to prevent an epidemic of lawsuits during or after a pandemic, in the US there are rumblings of another Covid Stimulus package and a part of that being limitations put on liability for employers.

The view is, particularly from Republicans and business groups are that this fear may stop business owners from opening and stimy the economic rebound.

There is unsurprisingly an alternative view from Senior Democrats including Nancy Pelosi and employee organizations that this would limit the rights of employees to sue so we shall see where that lands.

Even if it is a part of the stimulus package it will be limited in its scope and if businesses neglect to follow guidelines and put their staff, visitors and customers at risk they still leave themselves open to litigation.

Two key elements that businesses need to be thinking about, monitoring, and making operational changes for are social distancing adherence and face mask-wearing which are already being cited.

Pretty obvious really but the first thing you need to be able to do is to measure those things, you can, as many businesses are doing you could stick a costly employee on the door with oversized calculators or clipboards and manually count, not sure how sustainable that is or in a worst-case scenario how well it would hold up in court.

You need something that is automated and auditable and provides the intelligence and alerts for you to make rapid operational improvement and intervene where needed. 

Spoiler alert, we can do this for you with privacy-first 3D sensors!

Purples anonymous occupancy counting using 3d sensors

Now, as much as a stick tends to be a much better motivator than a carrot I also, personally,  believe that there will be a high bar to achieve in these lawsuits so it is also nice to be doing these things for positive reasons too. 

One thing we know that we don’t know is what behaviors will be like post-pandemic, we do know it will likely be very different, and given that real estate is typically the second-largest cost in any business then understanding usage will be important in future planning.

And one, probably for my next blog is around safety, risk, and trust which are key drivers of behavior now more than ever, and by using technology to build trust with your stakeholders you have the chance to set yourself apart as new lines are drawn. More on that next. 

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