COVID-19 is now interrupting and, in some instances, cancelling contracts across the country. While the situation is highly fluid, these business disruptions appear likely to continue and perhaps even worsen in the immediate future. This will significantly affect and perhaps threaten businesses people have worked had to establish. And it will of course impact employees and their jobs. Business leaders will have to make tough decisions in the coming weeks and months. Many of these decisions will touch on important legal issues. Below are a few legal hot topics addressed by my colleagues at Gray Reed in the past few days:
A few of my colleagues recently published articles on these in the construction context here and the energy context here. (Thanks to Preston Kamin, J.P. Vogel, Vernon Howerton and Ryan Frankel). The upshot of both articles is that the language in your contract is what controls; provide timely notice; and it is critical that you review these clauses with counsel to understand your rights. Remember what is created by contract can be changed by contract. Encourage your customers and vendors to work with you to modify the contract to deal with these unprecedented circumstances. This is surely a better result than litigating novel issues such as whether or not COVID-19 is covered by the clause.
My colleagues, Darin Brooks and Brian Waters also wrote about business interruption insurance coverage. This issue is critical. Now is the time to know your policy and know the probability (or improbability) of coverage so you can plan and make business decisions.
My colleagues in the Gray Reed Employment Practice Group recently contributed an article to amendments expected to be made to the Family Medical Leave Act. The bottom line:
1. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage and benefits are expanded;
2. 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees affected by COVID-19; and
3. Tax credits for employers to help offset the increased costs of the leave provisions.
If you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to contact me. My contact information can be found here.