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Op/Ed

Protect your business from a government subpoena with COVID protocols

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Amazon is facing a subpoena for their COVID protocols. Are you next? Here’s what you can do to protect your workers and your business.

Woman with mask using hand sanitizer, part of COVID protocols

In the news category of “about time”, Amazon is being subpoenaed by California regarding their COVID safety protocols; could your company be next?

If you’re reading this, the chances that the state of California—or any other state, for that matter—will subpoena your business is slim. However, the government asking for documents related to safety protocols isn’t uncommon, and present circumstances make such instances all the more likely. So, here’s what you should do if the government subpoenas your business.

Firstly, having a clear COVID plan and set of protocols that you follow means you probably don’t have to worry. The main reason for the subpoenas against Amazon is that their health plans and safety procedures, while present (and highly publicized, at that), aren’t being maintained, enforced, or followed by supervisors—at least, allegedly. These allegations come from employees with concerns about their own safety, so it’s safe to say that California is taking them seriously.

Moreover, listening to your employees and supporting them as needed–and ensuring that you have a record of doing so—is a good way to keep the government at bay (that’s good advice in general). If your employees see fit to complain to OSHA or the state regarding your safety protocols, you’re clearly doing something wrong; listening to them up front and making changes as needed will help head off some nasty consequences, and your employees will be happier.

Finally, it’s important to check your COVID protocols and safety plan to ensure that your documents are up to date. Ideally, you probably did what everyone else did in March—listen to the CDC, draft a plan, hold employees accountable, and hand out free masks—but guidelines have changed since then, and they’re liable to continue doing so. Even without the fear of an audit or subpoena, routinely checking and updating your plan is a must.

All of this may feel arbitrary or like you’re jumping through hoops, but remember that you’re doing that specifically to keep your employees safe and your business running. As long as you’re approaching employee and customer safety with those aspects in mind, you should have no trouble passing an audit or subpoena with flying colors.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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