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Labor and Employment stock illustration.Just one month ago, all was normal. Stores were open, workers were at their jobsites, commerce was humming—and, as always happens in ordinary times, employees were lodging complaints about perceived discriminatory, improper, and illegal conduct by their employers. The EEOC, the SEC, and all the other usual authorities were receiving and processing employee petitions in due course.

Then, with COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, the world changed. Quarantining went into effect, businesses closed, commerce ground to a halt, and economic downturn descended fiercer than was feared. A record 6.6 million laid off Americans filed for unemployment benefits the last full week of March—approximately ten times the prior weekly record. The week after that, another 6.6 million laid off employees filed for unemployment.

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