California Labor &
Employment Law Blog
Employer Protected From Employee’s Spouse’s Suit Over COVID Spread
May 13, 2021

Employer Protected From Employee’s Spouse’s Suit Over COVID Spread

Topics: COVID-19, Court Decisions

A recent lawsuit had many employers on edge after an employee’s spouse contracted COVID and sued her husband’s employer claiming that the employer was liable for tort damages because it knew or should have known that its workers were all potentially exposed to COVID-19 and allegedly did not follow COVID safety protocols.  She asserted that her husband brought COVID home from work on his person or through his hair and clothes.

On May 10, 2021, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ordered an end to the lawsuit at the pleading stage dismissing the case with prejudice.  The Court concluded that the employer was protected by California’s Workers’ Compensation exclusive remedy and, more broadly, that any duty to provide a safe workplace to employees does not extend to non-employees infected away from the workplace.

This case should provide guidance to other courts, however, it is not binding on California state courts, so employers should be on the lookout for similar claims and should continue to follow CDC and California’s guidance to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.  If you have any questions or need the latest information, be sure to contact your favorite CDF attorney.

About CDF

For over 25 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

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About the Editor in Chief

Sacramento Office Managing Partner and Chair of CDF’s Traditional Labor Law Practice Group. Mark has been practicing labor and employment law in California for thirty years. His practice has a special emphasis on the representation of California employers in union-management relations and handling federal and state court litigation and administrative matters triggered by all types of employment-related disputes. He is also adept at providing creative and practical legal advice to help minimize the risks inherent in employing workers in California. He recently named “Sacramento Lawyer of the Year” in Employment Law-Management for 2021 by Best Lawyers®.
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