Operating through the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging businesses to respond and adapt to an unprecedented crisis. Business owners and executive leadership are facing critical operational and procedural decisions in a rapidly changing environment. Sheehan Phinney is advising clients on all aspects of the legal implications of COVID-19 and has established a COVID-19 Resources page for sharing information and best practices in this evolving situation. We are committed to developing and implementing business strategies for our clients during this challenging time.
Please bookmark this page and the COVID-19 Resources page. We will update these sites regularly with state and federal law changes and legal alerts and analysis.
Click here to read a message from firm President, David McGrath.
Labor and Employment – Businesses are facing, with little notice, how to manage a host of labor employment issues. The Employment lawyers at Sheehan are guiding employers through many issues including:
- Temporary layoffs and furloughs, along with staff work time reductions
- Plant closures and mass layoffs
- Unemployment benefits available to employees
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and related emergency relief laws being enacted by the Federal and State Governments
- Application of vacation, paid time off and sick time policies
- Wage and hour implications of any changes for exempt and non-exempt workers
- Requiring or permitting remote work
- The consequences of possible exposure to COVID-19
- Applicability of disability and other anti-discrimination laws to the realities of COVID-19 in the workplace
- Workplace safety
- Employee privacy/confidentiality concerns and restrictions
Healthcare – There are many unprecedented challenges that healthcare providers are facing that requires tackling clinical and regulatory developments on a daily basis. Guidance from CMS, CDC, and state departments of health – in the form of waivers, FAQs, rule modifications, and others – is now released at an extraordinary pace. Our Health Law Practice Group is monitoring daily, the federal and state information to assist health care providers in implementing these directives and responding to the evolving landscape.
Bankruptcy, Restructuring and Creditors’ Rights – We have the experience to effectively and efficiently respond to the transactional and litigation matters that arise in any distressed commercial situation. Our group is comprised of finance and creditors’ rights lawyers with significant loan workout experience that can assist borrowers and lenders in loan workouts. We are prepared to respond to issues related to business disruption caused by COVID-19, minimizing the risk of bankruptcy for our client’s business or as a creditor of another business.
Business Counseling – The Corporate Group is advising clients on changes in business laws and regulations that have been adopted in response to COVID-19. Our corporate team will work with clients to develop strategies for business continuity and limiting business risks during this rapidly-evolving situation.
Commercial Contracts – Many businesses are finding it difficult to fulfill their contractual obligations as a result of the spread of COVID-19. We are positioned to help our clients interpret existing force majeure clauses, assess whether to declare or accept a declaration of force majeure, and develop contract strategies to protect their rights in uncertain times.
Data Privacy & Security – Many businesses are under tremendous pressure as they attempt to conduct business as usual with an increasingly remote workforce. IT departments are straining to accommodate more telecommuters and get them up and running as quickly as possible. Companies have more outside resources connecting from the outside to the systems containing data that must be protected. During the turmoil, hackers are increasing their attacks under the cover of COVID-19 related communications. These all exacerbate data security risks that were already challenging to address. Our Data Privacy & Security Group is providing practical advice to help businesses accomplish their strategic goals while remaining compliant with data privacy laws and regulations that do not go away during a pandemic. If a breach does occur, our group can guide leadership through a response to minimize the fallout and comply with the complex legal requirements.
Financing – The current economic uncertainties have left many businesses with short- term liquidity concerns as well as immediate covenant compliance issues under existing loan facilities. Our Financing Group has broad experience advising business clients with respect to credit requirements through challenging economic times, including experience with a wide range of financing sources and structures, and practical approaches to negotiating covenant waivers and other accommodations.
Insurance Recovery – With the economic losses businesses are facing, come questions about the prospect of these losses being covered by insurance. Losses due to business interruption, including losses resulting from business suspension measures taken in response to government directives, may be covered by property insurance policies. The specific terms of these policies differ, and the treatment of these claims will vary by insurance carrier. Additionally, many states are proposing legislation that could void certain exclusions or require coverage under certain policy language, and the first lawsuits challenging the denial of coverage have already been filed. There is also the possibility that shareholders assert claims against directors and officers of companies for failing to prepare for and adequately respond to the pandemic and ensuing losses. Coverage for such claims under D&O insurance will again depend on the specific terms of the policies involved. Whether through analysis and negotiation or litigating coverage disputes, Sheehan has the expertise and experience to navigate our clients through the complex insurance issues.
Real Estate – Among the many issues presented by the COVID-19 crisis is the uncertain impact on existing and potential real estate transactions. With temporary closings of various registries and other public offices, as well as a stressed financial market, closings may be delayed and equity sources may withdraw from transactions and temporarily sit on the sidelines. With businesses facing serious revenue shortfalls, tenants will have challenges in keeping current under their leases. The Real Estate group has transactional and leasing lawyers experienced in guiding owners, investors, tenants and landlords as they work through solutions to COVID-19 related business issues.
For more information, contact a member of the Sheehan Phinney COVID-19 Task Force or the attorney at the firm with whom you are in regular contact.