Publish-pandemic litigation: Commerce secrets and techniques, provider contracts, and employment insurance policies could be excessive on the checklist

After a year of isolation, uncertainty, and wafer-thin profit margins, New Jersey business owners are excited to see the widespread adoption of COVID-19 vaccines and the easing or removal of restrictions. For the economy, however, the situation is anything but stable. In addition, litigation is on the rise.

Experts predict that the number of lawsuits for business owners will increase significantly and that litigation costs in connection with the pandemic will run into billions. In a recent study in February, 31% of in-house counsel attorneys said the number of lawsuits had increased, and another 46% expected that number to skyrocket within the next six months.

If you suspect a lawsuit is pending, you need to seek help from a specialized attorney as most lawsuits are an extremely critical time to start.

Here are some potential post-pandemic issues to watch out for:

Protection of trade secrets: Many employees saw this time as an opportunity to change the direction of their lives. Some want to change jobs. Some researchers even estimate that up to 1 in 4 employees are actively considering a career change. These potential job hopes could take away your precious trade secrets if not properly protected. It is important to be proactive to avoid this theft and to react quickly once a theft has occurred. Make sure your employee contracts protect your company from this theft. It is equally important to document everything and to retain all evidence that a former employee has taken over customer lists, prices or other sensitive information.

Supplier contracts: One of the most common side effects of the pandemic was significant supply chain issues, including late or undelivered goods. Some companies have avoided litigating these disputes during the lockdown. There will be a lawsuit. The first thing companies need to do is dust off their supplier contracts. If your company is affected by late or canceled deliveries, you should pay particular attention to clauses that include phrases such as “Time is of the essence”. However, if your company has not been able to deliver on time, you should pay particular attention to “force majeure” or “force majeure” clauses that excuse delays or performance.

Employment policy: Whenever employees return to work in the company, you should review your employee handbooks and other related documents to determine if any of the regulations need to be adjusted. For example, the company may not even have a vaccination policy. Recent guidance from the EEOC has suggested that employers may, in certain circumstances, require workers to be vaccinated against the virus. However, such a directive could potentially pose a number of legal challenges, especially if it does not allow for religious or medical exemptions. On the other hand, if a policy is not passed and an unvaccinated worker brings the virus home, employers could face enormous liability. Business owners should consult a lawyer specializing in this area prior to implementing any new policy to ensure their business is in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws.

In short, the vaccine may be there, but now that the world has changed, the threats to New Jersey business owners are still great. It’s time to be proactive and protect the business you worked so hard for.

Michael Horn is a partner at Archer & Greiner, specializes in general litigation with an emphasis on commercial disputes, UCC claims, contract disputes, real estate disputes, product liability disputes, complex litigation, insurance disputes and environmental disputes. Dylan Newton is an Associate at Archer & Greiner in the Business Litigation Practice Group.

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