The largest small business advocacy organization in the U.S. is calling on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court to stop Gov. Tony Evers from publishing the names of companies that have had employees test positive for COVID-19.
The National Federal of Independent Business has filed an amicus brief in the case Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, et al., v. Tony Evers, et al.
Gov. Evers, a Democrat, announced plans in the summer of 2020 to publicize the names of businesses in Wisconsin with more than 25 employees and at least two who had tested positive for COVID-19.
During a press conference, Evers clarified that the names wouldn’t be posted online but the state would be obligated to release them to media outlets that filed freedom of information requests, WKOW reported.
Statewide business interest groups filed a lawsuit against Evers in October 2020, arguing that such information should be kept private and would harm businesses already struggling amid the pandemic.
In April 2021, the Fourth District Court of Appeals sided with Gov. Evers and his administration. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce appealed the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Now the NFIB is urging the supreme court to reverse the court of appeals' decision. Other business associations, including the Wisconsin Restaurant Association and Restaurant Law Center, among others, have joined the amicus brief.
"The governor’s plans will ultimately do more harm than good for small business owners in Wisconsin," Karen Harned, Executive Director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center, said in a statement. "Publishing the names of businesses with employees testing positive for COVID-19 will permanently impact small businesses’ financial recovery throughout the state and not slow the spread of the virus. We urge the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reverse the court of appeals decision and not allow this ill-advised plan to proceed."
Fox Business has reached out to the governor’s office and will update this story accordingly.
A decision in the case is not expected until next year.