Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

This article was contributed by the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce.

As your local small business advocates, the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce continues to work on the safe reopening of our local businesses so we can get our residents, neighbors and friends back to work. San Benito County businesses have been hit very hard by the economic shutdown, but the threats to small businesses will not stop after the reopening of the economy and we need to be prepared.

Before COVID-19 became an everyday name, abusive lawsuits were already a huge threat to our local businesses. Regionally, we have seen some small businesses close their doors because of these greedy lawsuits that have targeted businesses because of small mistakes made by a mom and pop store. Now, our community needs protection against what could be a wave of new COVID-19 lawsuits aimed at shaking down mom and pop businesses, on top of the ongoing threat of Private Attorneys General Act lawsuits (PAGA).

The beginning of October started Lawsuit Abuse Awareness month, and now is great time to highlight this important issue and to call on the legislature and Governor to support small business and protect them from these abusive lawsuits that shakedown our local businesses through ADA complaints and others related to the abuse of Prop 65.

Unfortunately, San Benito County businesses could face COVID-19 related lawsuits while in this unstable COVID-19 climate. They are already trying to fabricate lawsuits, where people sue because they think they may have been exposed to COVID-19, even when they do not become infected.

Business owners deserve certainty of liability protection. Business owners are dedicated to the welfare and safety for their employees and customers, but they also want certainty that a lawsuit won’t drive them into bankruptcy. Need I remind the California legislature that there are nearly 4 million small businesses in California, and together they employ more than 7 million California workers.

Unnecessary litigation caused by COVID-19, Prop 65 and the Private Attorneys General Act will have lasting impacts on small businesses in California. Unless our leaders take a stand for those that employ so many, the hopes and dreams of small business owners will continue to fade away.