NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A390
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the general obligations law, in relation to declaring
agreements exempting employers from liability for negligence related to
the COVID-19 pandemic void and unenforceable
To ensure that employers will still take the necessary steps to protect
their employees from the COVID-19 pandemic even if they have a signed
waiver of liability
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill amends the general obligations by adding a new
section 5-322.4 Subsection 1 declares that any agreements which exempt
employers from liability for negligence related to the COVID-19 pandemic
are void and unenforceable.
Subsection 2 allows the employer to seek damages from a third party, if
that third party is wholly or partially responsible for the negligence.
As New York businesses begin to re-open, some businesses are requiring
their workers to sign waivers of liability in order to return to work.
Such a waiver should not be a license for businesses to neglect their
employee's safety and operate recklessly with regards to the COVID-19
This legislation allows for employers who neglect to properly protect
their employees to still be liable for damages. Businesses should still
be taking care to operate in a safe and sensible way that protects their
workers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2020: A.10838/S.8587 - Referred to Judiciary.
FISCAL IMPACT ON THE STATE:
This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2021-2022 Regular Sessions
January 6, 2021
Introduced by M. of A. BRAUNSTEIN, SIMON -- read once and referred to
the Committee on Judiciary
AN ACT to amend the general obligations law, in relation to declaring
agreements exempting employers from liability for negligence related
to the COVID-19 pandemic void and unenforceable
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. The general obligations law is amended by adding a new
2 section 5-322.4 to read as follows:
3 § 5-322.4. Agreements exempting employers from liability for negli-
4 gence related to the COVID-19 pandemic void and unenforceable. 1. Any
5 provision in any contract, agreement or understanding relating to the
6 employment, hiring or retaining of the services of any person, including
7 but not limited to employees, independent contractors and interns, that
8 exempts the employer or hiring party from liability for damages for
9 personal injury or death caused by or resulting from the employer's
10 negligence in connection with the employer's or hiring party's handling
11 of measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic shall be deemed to be void
12 as against public policy and wholly unenforceable.
13 2. The provisions of this section shall not preclude an employer or
14 hiring party from requiring indemnification for damages arising out of
15 personal injury or death caused by or resulting from the negligence of a
16 party other than the employee, independent contractor and intern, wheth-
17 er or not the employer or hiring party is partially negligent.
18 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.