Michell Pacheco Soto
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local municipalities have issued emergency proclamations requiring small businesses to either shut down or limit their business operations. This has caused small businesses to suffer substantial profit losses. In response, small businesses have filed business interruption claims with their insurance providers to recover their profit losses. However, insurance companies have mostly rejected their insureds’ business interruption claims because there has not been a direct physical loss or damage to the insureds’ properties, which is required to grant business interruption coverage. Businesses have been forced to file lawsuits against their insurers, hoping that the courts will compel insurance companies to provide business interruption coverage to their insureds during the pandemic. Business owners have also asked their elected officials to intervene and help them by passing legislation that would require insurance companies to provide business interruption coverage.
The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has recently proposed a rule change that would revise its interpretation of “independent contractor” under the Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”). According to DOL, which has the power to investigate worker complaints about misclassifications, this change is needed to promote certainty for stakeholders, reduce litigation, and encourage innovation in the economy. However, this proposed rule could also diminish employee rights because independent contractors have fewer protections under FLSA. This rule widens the scope of who can be considered an independent contractor. Thus, many workers classified as employees could be reclassified as independent contractors and lose protections under FLSA.
After the COVID-19 pandemic spread to the U.S. in February of 2020, there was a surge in fraudulent behavior as criminals took advantage of the fear revolving around the pandemic to profit from selling defective goods and scamming the public. This has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars by the public. Scammers will continue to benefit and take advantage of the public until the government steps in and takes preventative measures to stop this criminal behavior during the pandemic.