By Ryan Whalen, originally published in Spectrum News on May 26, 2020 6:09 PM ET.

Law Firm Helps Businesses Navigate Reopening Regulations Across New York

Phillips Lytle represents hundreds of businesses across the state.

The majority of those businesses remain closed as a result of the governor’s executive order and ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, but hope to soon reopen.

“I think the majority of our clients and businesses across the state are going to be in phases 2 and 3,” partner James Grasso said.

Grasso said businesses are looking for guidance about the safety plans they’re required to develop.

“I think this is one of the areas where the state has really done a good job,” he said. “They’ve issued template safety reopening plans and safety guidelines for employers for the four different phases and it’s really designed for employers to do it themselves.”

Grasso said employers have concerns about what they do with the plans. They do not submit them to the state but are required to post them.

He said the state Department of Labor and the Department of Health may do inspections but he doesn’t think businesses should be concerned if there are problems with the plans, as long as they develop them in good faith.

“I don’t think this is a case where the state is going to be out to keep employers shutdown,” he said. “I think it’s more going to be an educational situation where if there are any deficiencies, they’re going to work with employers.”

The attorney said the other key question he and his colleagues are being asked is what to do about employees who have already indicated they’re not ready to come back.

“Depending on the reason that an employee doesn’t want to come back to work, they may have some protections where the employer is going to have to accommodate that for a period of time. In some situations there may be no protection and an employer then is going to have to make a business judgment about do they accommodate the employee anyways because they need them eventually,” Grasso said.

He said the coronavirus pandemic has been new ground, even for his firm that consistently works with business and government, but he believes attorneys have had time now to get a good grasp on new laws and regulations.