by Jeff Sovern
This article in the Houston Chronicle says that Texas health laws don't require restaurants to tell diners whether employees have COVID, though some restaurants have voluntarily disclosed that employees have been infected. Health laws around the nation should be amended to prevent employees with COVID from knowingly or negligently working at restaurants, if they don't already so provide, and to require disclosures when an employee has tested positive recently. But in the meantime, common law fraud rules may protect diners. In most states, contracting parties must disclose latent material defects that are unknown to the buyer. Our casebook has a couple of cases on this point, Johnson v. Davis, 480 So.2d 625 (Fl. 1985) and Layman v. Binns, 519 N.E.2d 642 (Oh. 1988). I think that means that if a restaurant doesn't disclose to diners that their server has COVID, the consumers would have a pretty good claim against the restaurant, assuming that the restaurant knew about the condition and that it wasn't obvious.