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Cal/OSHA sued by group of businesses over updated COVID-19 prevention standards

Small businesses and organizations representing them say new standards impact them in a disproportionate way

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Businesses are suing the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) over updated coronavirus workplace safety rules, saying new mandates could cost them their businesses.

The National Retail Federation, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) along with small businesses Relles Florist, Mayfield Equipment Company, and Abate-A-Weed, Inc. all filed the lawsuit Wednesday in San Francisco.

The lawsuit is in response to updated COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards posted November 30.

It details many safety standards for businesses and employees including rules that businesses have to pay for employee COVID-19 tests.

The Emergency Temporary Standards also require businesses to give workers paid leave for 14 days if they were exposed to COVID-19, even if a test comes back negative.

That regulation is despite the CDC recommending a 7-day quarantine in that situation.

The National Federation of Independent Business represents thousands of small businesses with 10 employees or less on average.

It says the 14-day exclusion rule is what can impact small businesses the most. NFIB’s executive director Karen Harned gave an example of how it can impact a small business.

“A business owner can have a big contract that they need to fulfill and it requires almost daily operations, and if they had one person test positive for COVID that entire team would not be able to come to work,” Harned said. “How would they be able to fulfill that one big contract that really helps keep them afloat through the year?”

NFIB said Cal/OSHA exceeded its authority by not having public comment before bringing the updated Emergency Temporary Standards.

They also say that Cal/OSHA is not in charge over wages and benefits but say the paid leave requirement mandated ends up regulating that which is out of their authority.

ABC10 reached out to Cal/OSHA who replied saying, “DIR (Department of Industrial Relations) and CAL/OSHA do not comment on pending litigation.

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