Prepare for the onslaught of COVID 'tag-along' claims.

The headline reads, "Ex-Manager Sues in Lawsuit Alleging Harassment and Unsafe COVID-19 Protocols." A former manager at a New York ice cream shop filed a lawsuit alleging that he was fired in retaliation for speaking up about instances of sexual harassment and unsafe COVID-19 workplace protocols at the company.

The "and" is vitally important.

I firmly believe that for the next year-plus, just about every employment-related lawsuit will contain a COVID-19 whistleblower tag-along claim.

In other words, employees will sue for discrimination and safety-related retaliation, or breach of contract and safety-related retaliation, or fill-in-the-blank and safety-related retaliation. I've already seen it happen in my own cases, and it makes an already complicated employment dispute much more complicated and dangerous.

This likely reality means employers must double-down on implementing and enforcing COVID-19 safety rules in the workplace. Have a written COVID-19 safety policy, and strictly enforce it. If you don't know what should be in this policy, OSHA recently published a terrific guide. (Read it at Key points:

* Separate and send home infected or potentially infected employees.

* Implement physical distancing in all communal work areas.

* Install barriers where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

* Suppress the spread using face coverings.

* Improve ventilation.

* Provide the supplies necessary for good hygiene practices.

* Perform routine cleaning and disinfection.

Anti-retaliation policy

Another key point: Your plan must include an anti-retaliation promise. Something like this:

"We strictly prohibit and never tolerate unlawful retaliation against any employee, by any employee. All forms of unlawful retaliation are prohibited, including any form of...

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