Dear New Jersey Congressional Delegation Members,
As the leaders of the Garden State’s major business associations, we believe the health, welfare and safety of New Jersey residents and the American people are the No. 1 priority during this unprecedented public health crisis. We are committed to doing our part to help “flatten the curve,” support our members, and provide important information that our elected officials need to respond to this emergency.
On behalf of the millions of New Jersey residents that our members collectively employ, who have all been impacted by the necessity to close or limit business operations, we write to you urging support of businesses and workers in our state by passing targeted, common sense liability reforms to protect against abuses of the legal system that would punish employers who are good actors and working tirelessly to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our essential employers in New Jersey have done their best to contribute the products and supplies necessary to serve the public amid a cloud of unclear and shifting rules and requirements placed on essential businesses. Under tough circumstances, our employers have risen to the moment to ensure our state’s continued functioning during this difficult time in our history.
That is why we are asking you to support their economic recovery by providing businesses in New Jersey with limited and rational protections against lawsuits that threaten to shut down or put out of business the industries that have contributed so much in our struggle against the coronavirus. Companies that act in good faith to protect employees and customers and follow available guidelines should not be exposed to unlimited liability and costly legal fees for trying to do the right thing. If Congress does not act to protect businesses from needless lawsuits for a pandemic beyond anyone’s control, we fear that the recovery will be significantly slowed or may never happen.
Experts are all still trying to understand the coronavirus, how it is transmitted and how best to protect the population. The advice given from the CDC and other authorities have changed over time and will continue to be modified as more knowledge is gained. In all likelihood, we will not know all the answers until we are well past the threat, if even then. Against this backdrop, businesses are doing the best they can to comply with applicable guidance and employ the most effective measures for their particular industries. As we begin to reopen our economy, businesses should not be threatened with potential liability for failure to protect persons against a worldwide pandemic, especially after they have acted in good faith based on the best available knowledge.
Providing businesses with targeted and limited liability protections, such as safe harbors, is not the same thing as shielding companies from liability for bad acts. We do not seek any reforms that would protect businesses that operate in reckless or intentional disregard of available guidance on reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, the plaintiff’s bar should not be allowed to take advantage of this worldwide crisis by exploiting the worst public health emergency of our lifetimes.
On behalf of all employers in New Jersey, we urge you to provide our businesses with the certainty that they can continue to lean wholly into the fight against COVID-19 and our coming economic recovery without having to fear those efforts being undone by potential liability and exorbitant legal fees.
Thank you for your consideration and continued support of New Jersey residents during this unprecedented health crisis. If you have questions, please contact Chrissy Buteas, NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-447-3466.
African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, Inc.
American Camp Association NY/NJ
American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey
American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey
Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce
Bernards Township Regional Chamber of Commerce
Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce
Bus Association of New Jersey
Cape May County Chamber of Commerce
Capital Region Minority Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey
Chemistry Council of New Jersey
Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey
CrossState Credit Union Association
Early Childhood Education Advocates
Employers Association of NJ
Fuel Merchants Association of NJ
Garden State Pharmacy Owners, Inc.
Global Business Alliance
Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce
Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce
Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce
Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce
HealthCare Institute of New Jersey
Health Care Association of New Jersey
Hoboken Chamber of Commerce
Home Care & Hospice Association of New Jersey
Home Health Services Association of New Jersey
Hudson County Chamber of Commerce
Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce
Insurance Council of New Jersey
Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce
Marine Trades Association of New Jersey
Medical Society of New Jersey
Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce
Monmouth-Ocean Development Council
Morris County Chamber of Commerce
NAIOP – NJ
National Federation of Independent Business
New Jersey Apartment Association
New Jersey Asphalt Pavement Association
New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies
New Jersey Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons
New Jersey Bankers Association
New Jersey Builders Association
New Jersey Business & Industry Association
New Jersey Campground Owners and Outdoor Lodging Association
New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
New Jersey Child Care Association
New Jersey Civil Justice Institute
New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers
New Jersey Concrete and Aggregate Association
New Jersey Council of County Colleges
New Jersey Dental Association
New Jersey Food Council
New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association
New Jersey Hotel and Lodging Industry Association
New Jersey Independent Electrical Contractors Association
New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce
New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc.
New Jersey Motor Truck Association
New Jersey Pharmacists Association
New Jersey Podiatric Medical Society
New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association
New Jersey Retail Merchants Association
New Jersey Salon and Spa Coalition
New Jersey Self Insurers Association
New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants
New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association
New Jersey Tech Council
New Jersey Tourism Industry Association
New Jersey Utilities Association
New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce
New Jersey Warehousemen & Movers Association
New York Shipping Association, Inc.
Newark Regional Business Partnership
North Jersey Jewish Business Alliance
Ocean City Chamber of Commerce
Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce
Professional Insurance Agents of NJ
Salem County Chamber of Commerce
State Pharmacy Owners, Inc.
Somerset County Business Partnership
Southern NJ Development Council
Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce
Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey
Sussex County Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia
The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association
Union Township Chamber of Commerce
Utility & Transportation Contractors Association
Cc: Governor Phil Murphy
New Jersey Legislature