A federal court recently dismissed a suit brought by meat processing workers that asked the court to force the plant owner to comply with workplace safety guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) related to COVID-19.

Important Takeaways For Employers:

  • This is one of the first court decisions involving workplace safety and COVID-19. It suggests the courts may rely on the doctrine of primary jurisdiction and similar doctrines to avoid deciding cases involving COVID-19 safety issues and instead shift the decision-making authority to the agencies that issue or enforce the workplace and public health and safety laws.
    • The defendants successfully argued that the court should dismiss the Complaint on the doctrine of primary jurisdiction.  Based on this doctrine, the court decided that OSHA, not the court, should decide the matter.
    • The court declined to address the issue in part