Covid as Natural Disaster? Courts to Decide WARN Act Defense

How Technology Can Be Used to Lessen the Damage from Natural Disasters

In 2020 alone, more than 10.3 million acres were burned by wildfires across the United States, a level three times higher than the 10-year average from 1990 to 2000 10. Between fire suppression costs, direct and indirect costs, wildfires in 2020 cost the United States upwards of $170 billion. Add in floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, and the toll of disasters on Americans is astronomical.

Andre Coleman and a team of researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are part of the First Five Consortium, a group of government, industry, and academia experts committed to using technology to lessen the impact of wildfires and other natural disasters…

Artificial intelligence for disaster management: that’s how we stand

Recent experiences with natural hazards show that we still confront challenges regarding the accuracy, reliability and modality of information being communicated and individuals’ ability to elicit the appropriate response and accept its uncertainty. “The risk of being wrong” is still a big challenge, and recent advanced technology may host more uncertainty that is yet to be taken into account.

“With AI, the situation would have been understood rapidly and communicated efficiently, possibly reducing the number of people involved”

Ioannis Andredakis​, ​a Senior Analyst on Disaster of the Directorate for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operations of the European Commission.

However, technology is still an ally in disaster risk analysis and an essential instrument for scientists, industries, and policy-makers involved in DRR. AI is a fast-analysis instrument that has not seen its full application in the aftermath of disasters yet…

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit announced earlier this month that it will weigh whether the pandemic qualifies as the type of natural disaster 

Covid as Natural Disaster? Courts to Decide WARN Act Defense

Two federal circuit courts will consider an employer defense that’s contributed to the relative scarcity of lawsuits filed by workers who say they didn’t get early notice before they were laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit announced earlier this month that it will weigh whether the pandemic qualifies as the type of natural disaster that exempts Enterprise Holdings Inc. from the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act’s requirements. The Fifth Circuit has similarly agreed to take up that issue on an emergency appeal in a case involving a hydraulic fracturing company in Texas.

Circuit court rulings that limit or prevent employers from escaping notice requirements under the natural disaster exception could boost the amount of WARN Act claims stemming from pandemic job losses, some attorneys said. WARN Act lawsuits, which typically are class actions, seek back pay and benefits for each day employers failed to provide required notice…

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