Legal Affairs Discussion

Q&A about legal affairs impact of COVID-19 with Toby Eveland of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr; Stanton Jones of Arnold & Porter; Micah Kamrass of Manley Burke; Jennifer Riso of Cokinos | Young; and Judson Horras, NIC President and CEO

Key Points:

  • It is key to educate and help chapters stay informed of applicable shelter in place and social distancing orders.
  • One important issue is monitoring for consistent application of public health orders/guidance across campuses. The government does have the authority to restrict constitutional rights, such as the freedom of association, in the context of a national emergency, but this authority is not limitless. New university policies and guidance should be neutral with respect to different types of organizations. 
  • We should anticipate that neutral policies, consistently applied, will receive great deference from a court. It is important to note that private schools will have broader flexibility to implement policies they see fit. Chapter officers need to be cognizant of both civil and criminal liability if these policies are violated.
  • Virtual recruitment and meetings likely comply with the existing orders. Planning for start and stop scenarios is key as there could be more flareups of the virus.
  • Regarding Force Majeure provisions, the language of the contract is key. Be sure to comply with any required notice provision.
  • Houses with food service should take a close look at how that is addressed in leases. 
  • Chapters should have policies and protocols in place for how to address a positive diagnosis within its membership, especially if that person lives in a chapter facility. 
  • If your entity is involved in pending litigation, you should be pursuing early resolution.