In addition to all of the adverse financial repercussions faced by the COVID-19 pandemic in spite of monetary support provided by the federal government, hospitals and other health care providers are on the receiving end of myriad lawsuits relating to patient injuries and deaths as well as a range of complaints relating to alleged adverse impact on employees. Although many state governors issued executive orders which provide civil immunity protections which might protect against these claims, they are time limited and do not apply in federal causes of action or federal investigations.
Moreover, under the American Rescue Plan Act, up to $200 million was allocated to the U.S. Department of Labor, half of which was set aside for OSHA. This federal agency had been criticized for its lack of diligence in responding to workplace complaints but with this financial infusion, the expectation is that OSHA will become more aggressive in conducting inspections. As of March, OSHA has received over 16,000 COVID-19 health and safety complaints, has opened close to 2,000 inspections and has received over 5,000 whistleblower complaints.
Complaints have included unsafe-workplace allegations, as well as grievances about the handling of layoffs, furloughs and recalls; remote-work arrangements; and leave requests. The three industries that saw the greatest number of complaints were health care, retail and manufacturing.