7000 Franchise Advocates Call for Liability Protection

WASHINGTON, JULY 14 – The International Franchise Association (IFA) today will deliver a petition to Congress calling for coronavirus liability protections for businesses that follow applicable guidelines.

The petition was signed more than 7000 franchise business owners, leaders, and advocates from across the United States.

Evolving information about COVID-19 and differences in federal, state, and local guidelines have created legal uncertainty. As a result, franchise businesses that diligently implement safety protocols and rely in good faith on public health recommendations and guidelines may nonetheless face the prospect of litigation. More than 3400 COVID-19 related lawsuits have been filed this year.

In part, the petition states:

[Franchise businesses] will support proposals that provide reasonable, short-term liability safe harbors to small businesses that take all good-faith efforts to combat COVID-19, while ensuring that any individuals harmed by true bad actors retain appropriate legal recourse.

As each state gradually lifts its health-related restrictions, the small business community is aware of developing efforts to file lawsuits against small businesses alleging that customers or employees were infected with COVID-19, either against businesses deemed essential that kept operating, or against shuttered businesses that prepare to re-open.

Our businesses have served and protected America during this devastating pandemic. As Congress considers additional legislation to address the economic fallout due to COVID-19, we urge you to serve and protect small businesses like ours by enacting reasonable “Good Samaritan” legal protections as the country gradually returns to work.

According to industry research firm FRANdata, 75% of franchises have fewer than 20 employees.

The full petition is available online here.