As companies of all types and sizes continue to deal with the potential legal implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for their businesses, Jackson Walker provides insights and resources on the COVID-19 Legal Resources & Insights site.
On Wednesday, March 10, Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order to lift the state’s COVID-19-related occupancy limits and mask requirement goes into effect. While the order removes a state-level requirement that required masks to be worn in public places where social distancing could not be maintained, the order notes that businesses and other establishments retain the right to require customers and employees to wear face coverings.
The Houston Business Journal recently spoke with Jackson Walker partners Jamila Brinson and Brad Nitschke about Governor Abbott’s executive order and its impact on business owners.
“The governor removing that cover, it puts businesses who want to require masks in the position of really having to take a stand, voluntarily, if they want to continue that,” Brad said. “I suspect there will be folks who take issue with some businesses choosing to do that on their own.”
In the article, Jamila shared how many types of businesses are weighing the implications of enforcing mask-wearing. She also noted that Abbott’s new executive order does not exempt employers from federal workplace health and safety standards.
“Nothing in the March 2 executive order lessens an employer’s obligation to provide a safe work environment for their employees during the pandemic,” she said. “Businesses that pull back on these mitigation and sanitation efforts could also be in violation of COVID-19 regulations adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”
To read more, view the Houston Business Journal articles “Attorneys: Texas businesses can still require patrons, employees to mask up” and “Houston experts weigh in on company mask policies, employee rights in the unmasked office.” A subscription is required to view both articles. In addition, view the CoStar News article “As Companies Contemplate a Return to the Office, Legal Questions Arise on Safety” for insights from Jamila and Brad on the use of incentives to encourage employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
Jamila M. Brinson is a labor and employment and litigation attorney who partners with clients to proactively shape their workplaces and resolve issues when they arise. Whether handling labor and employment disputes, commercial disputes, or media, trademark, and copyright litigation, Jamila listens to her clients and creates legal strategies to obtain the best possible result.
Brad Nitschke is a business and healthcare litigator and the Chair of Jackson Walker’s COVID-19 Task Force. Brad frequently represents healthcare clients in contract disputes with vendors and suppliers, litigates real estate disputes involving healthcare facilities, and—working closely with Jackson Walker’s healthcare regulatory attorneys—helps clients analyze the potential risks of proposed business decisions. Brad also has extensive experience representing banks, other institutional lenders, and financial services firms in claims arising under loan documents, customer agreements, and the Uniform Commercial Code. Brad has particular experience in investigations and crisis response involving healthcare compliance issues, financial improprieties, and sexual misconduct.
Please note: This article and any resources presented on the JW Coronavirus Insights & Resources site are for informational purposes only, do not constitute legal or medical advice, and are not a substitute for legal advice from qualified counsel. The laws of other states and nations may be entirely different from what is described. Your use of these materials does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Jackson Walker. The facts and results of each case will vary, and no particular result can be guaranteed.