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CoronavirusAs the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID-19 or “coronavirus” continues to spread in New York, restaurant industry employers are forced to consider a number of workplace issues related to the virus and their obligations to employees and customers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance for businesses to plan for and respond to a coronavirus outbreak, but employers must go a step further and ensure they are also complying with multiple employment laws that may be implicated, including at the state and local level. While many of the workplace matters discussed herein are applicable to employers generally, those in the restaurant industry face unique circumstances as their doors are open to the public and their employees are preparing and serving food to that public.

Below we discuss several of the issues that employers are likely to encounter over the next several weeks. As an overall rule, it is imperative that employers consistently enforce and apply any policies or decisions made regarding coronavirus in the workplace to avoid unintentionally treating employees differently based upon their membership in a protected class, such as national origin.

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