Addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic
We are in a unique moment in history. While the 24-hour news cycle has given us minute by minute updates on the global COVID-19 pandemic, the truth is the amount that we do not know far outweighs what we do. We are not doctors or scientists and offer no unique thoughts about the pandemic itself. What we do know is that when a crisis hits, Americans want to feel like they are doing something to help. After 9/11, people lined up around the block to donate blood. They checked on loved ones. They donated to charities in need. In helping others, we find purpose and thus are better able to weather the storm ourselves.
With this as a backdrop, our firm has some important announcements concerning the pandemic.
We Created a COVID-19 Legal Task Force
First, in response to the pandemic, Edelson PC has created a COVID-19 Task Force. Although the focus of our Task Force will adapt to meet the needs of the community, we have identified the issues that need immediate attention.
Companies engaging in illegal price gouging practices.
Companies forcing employees to go to work under unsafe conditions risking exposure to COVID-19.
Companies refusing to issue refunds to customers for cancelled events.
Companies switching to remote workplaces without having appropriate security systems and procedures in place.
Companies using the pandemic to surreptitiously implement predatory and other unlawful practices knowing that the public’s focus is elsewhere.
Companies retaliating against whistleblowers
Many of these cases we're handling pro bono, whether we are handling them on behalf of individuals, classes, or state regulators. We're also working with state legislators who we think can be helpful with emergency legislation.
Helping the Community
In addition to our legal work, we also believe we have a duty to serve our surrounding communities of Chicago, San Francisco, and Chico that have been hit hard by this unprecedented event. Edelson PC will be:
Donating food, supplies, and money to underserved communities
We are also going to be calling on other business leaders to match our efforts, just like we will be open to matching theirs.
Encouraging healthy employees to donate blood
Buying gift certificates to local restaurants and theaters to offset their losses during the pandemic
Helping Our Employees
As a small business, we recognize the significant impact of any interruption to normal work life. But we also recognize a need to protect the health of our employees and the surrounding public. Internally, we’ve instituted the following:
We closed all 3 of our offices as of March 11.
We’ve halted all non-essential travel as of March 11.
We’ve instituted a prohibition on participating in any meeting or conference involving more than 5 people, absent an extremely compelling reason to do so. (A reason might be to provide testimony to a legislative body, as an example.)
We continue to pay people at the same rate, even if they are unable to work remotely (because of illness or because their job responsibilities aren't required now).
We are extending health coverage for part-time employees.
We are continuing to pay hourly employees their customary pay, even if they are not able to meet their hours because of health issues or the inability to work remotely.
The pandemic is going to have other impacts that are more significant than they might seem at first glance. Let’s be honest: we’re all going to be stuck in our homes for a long time. Social isolation and boredom are real things. We have used our production arm, Edelson Creative, to both give a creative outlet to our talented employees and hopefully entertain the public. We will be increasing these efforts, as much as possible, given that we have to find ways to produce content while working remotely. We are hoping that this will help our firm stay engaged and contribute to a broader sense of community.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will be making more specific announcements about what we are doing. We urge everyone to stay connected to the community, look to help out others in need, and find time for fun and levity. We are going to be in for an extremely bumpy ride, but we will get through this together.
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