COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Question: Is there a Duty owed by the Employer Hospital to its Healthcare Worker Employees?

In Florida, employers have an affirmative duty to provide a reasonably safe workplace for its employees.  Therefore, employers can be liable for negligence for injuries sustained by its employees that are ordinarily caused by the unsafe conditions in the workplace.

Applying tort law to the current pandemic, a growing question is should the hospitals and health care facilities in Florida be liable when one of their healthcare workers contracts a disease, such as the corona virus? If the hospitals and facilities could have reasonably stocked up or stored equipment that adequately protects against the virus, then a court may hold that there is a duty for the hospital to provide the healthcare employees with the proper equipment, even at the outset of a pandemic.

A court may also hold that an unsafe condition, that is, the presence of contagious pathogen within the healthcare workplace is foreseeable and the resulting sickness or death is also a foreseeable and ordinary cause due to the hospitals and healthcare facilities providing inadequate protective gear and equipment.

As the number of coronavirus cases increases and more healthcare workers, without proper equipment provided by their employer, are exposed, then the result is the unfortunate increase in healthcare employee fatalities. Notwithstanding other legal bars and hindrances, potential negligence claims may arise.

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