Governor Whitmer's executive order does not require the closure of essential businesses. The employees who work for these businesses and organizations are called “critical infrastructure workers”.

Clients say it best

I want to thank you again for what you have done for my family...


Year after year, we deliver unmatched results.


We are always looking for people who will add to our continuing success.

Essential Employees in Michigan

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of life for many in Michigan. As of April 19, 2020, there have been more than 30,000 cases of COVID-19, and more than 2,300 Michiganders have died from the virus. In this way, Michigan has been affected more than many other states, as Michigan has the tenth highest population, yet the state has the third-highest number of deaths and the sixth-highest number of total cases.

To combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, Governor Whitmer issued an executive order requiring the closure of all schools and businesses that are “not necessary to protect or sustain life.” Additionally, residents are ordered to stay home except for when engaging in certain activities. The result is that most Michiganders are to remain home during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for the employees of essential businesses, staying home may not be an option.

As noted above, the Governor’s executive order does not require the closure of essential businesses. The employees who work for these businesses and organizations are called “critical infrastructure workers” and are employed in the following industries:

  • Healthcare
  • Public health
  • Food and agriculture
  • Energy
  • Water and wastewater
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Public works
  • Communications and information technology, including news media
  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Hazardous materials
  • Financial services
  • Chemical supply chains and safety
  • Defense industrial base

Not all employees in these sectors are considered critical infrastructure workers. Under the Governor’s executive order, even critical infrastructure operations must only staff their organizations to the extent that it is necessary to “sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations.” More specifically, this refers to those workers “whose in-person presence is strictly necessary to allow the business or operation to maintain the value of inventory and equipment, care for animals, ensure security, process transactions (including payroll and employee benefits), or facilitate the ability of other workers to work remotely.” Businesses and organizations must inform essential employees and document these designations in writing.

Additionally, those businesses and organizations that employ critical infrastructure workers must adopt social distancing procedures to protect employees, customers, and others, including:

  • Restricting the number of workers to no more than is strictly necessary
  • Promoting remote work when possible
  • Keeping workers and customers at least six feet apart, when possible, including customers waiting in line.
  • Increasing the cleaning and disinfecting of the facility
  • Adopting policies to prevent those employees who exhibit respiratory symptoms from coming into work
  • Any other social distancing measures recommended by the Center for Disease Control

Besides the above sectors, all “in-person government activities, at whatever level that are not necessary to sustain or protect life, or to support those businesses and operations that are necessary to sustain or protect life, are suspended.” The executive order clarifies that necessary government activities include:

  • Law enforcement
  • Public safety
  • First responders
  • Public transit
  • Trash pick-up
  • Election employees
  • Operations necessary to enable transactions that support the work of a business or operation of critical infrastructure workers, and the maintenance of safe and sanitary public parks to allow for outdoor recreation

Finally, other workers who support critical infrastructure workers are also exempt from the required closures. This includes:

  • Childcare workers who serve the children or dependents of essential infrastructure workers
  • Workers at certain suppliers and distribution centers
  • Required insurance workers
  • Workers and volunteers who provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals
  • Workers who perform critical labor union activities

Determining which employees are critical infrastructure workers is not readily apparent. However, what is clear are the steps that businesses and other organizations must take to protect workers and the general public.

Employers who fail to take these recommendations seriously put employees at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Employees who have contracted COVID-19 should reach out to one of the dedicated Michigan personal injury lawyers at Sommers Schwartz, P.C., for immediate assistance. Our team of Detroit injury lawyers is ready to meet with employees over the phone or through video chat to discuss their cases. We have decades of experience advocating on behalf of injured employees and are prepared to address the unique challenges that COVID-19 work injury cases will present. 


Many Michigan workers have been laid off, furloughed, or had their hours reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other workers are being forced to work in sub-standard conditions that continuously place them in danger.

While many employers are doing their best to deal with these unprecedented times, even well-intentioned employers can go astray of what the law requires. Below are a few of the legal employment issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic:

While the COVID-19 pandemic puts many businesses and organizations in a challenging position, employers must take the necessary steps to ensure that they are following all applicable state and federal laws. An employer’s failure to do so may be the basis of a Michigan employment lawsuit.

Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Attorney Today

If you or someone you care about has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, or you believe that your employer has violated state or federal law, contact the dedicated Detroit personal injury and employment lawyers at Sommers Schwartz, P.C.

Our dedicated team of personal injury and employee advocates have extensive experience handling all types of claims and are prepared to address the unique issues that will undoubtedly arise in the wake of the pandemic. Sommers Schwartz is closely following developments with the global COVID-19 pandemic, and we are continuing to take measures to protect the health and safety of our staff, their families, and the general public. Because we have assembled a response team focused on maintaining a healthy workplace and business continuity, we can still offer the same high-quality representation for which we are known. To discuss your case with one of our knowledgeable attorneys, call 866-443-4145 today to schedule a free consultation.

A Trusted Authority

Our attorneys have been featured on local and national media outlets, including:


Do you want the best? Hire Matt Curtis.

I was referred to Matt Curtis by an attorney’s office in the city where I live. From the first telephone conversation with Matt and his team, I felt confident I didn’t need to look any further for an attorney.

“You do have a voice, and they will make sure your voice is heard!”

I had been working for an employer I knew was engaging in unethical business practices by requiring employees to work off the clock without compensation. Searching the internet for help in getting the money due me, I found Sommers Schwartz, P.C.! I decided to give them a call and within a…

I will confidently recommend Sommers Schwartz.

You were on a short list of attorney’s I considered to represent me in this matter based on your standing in the legal community and I have no doubt that your reputation brought this matter to a resolution more expeditiously than a less highly regarded attorney would have been able to accomplish.

I was very impressed!

I want to express what a great job Tad did. He made me feel comfortable and important in his role and he was very supportive. I was very impressed.

I couldn’t have been more impressed!

Jason Thompson represented me in a gross negligence case, and I couldn’t have been more impressed with his professionalism and energy throughout the entire process.

I will always appreciate your professional approach.

I believe that you were very professional. More important, you were patient with respect to my lack of experience in this situation. You took time to explain why one path was better than another. You listened carefully and offered sound advice and counsel.

There are no words for my gratitude.

I want to thank you again for what you have done for my family. There are no words for my gratitude. I will forever be grateful.

Your firm has tremendous skill and ethics.

Over the years I have referred cases to your firm in general and to Norm specifically knowing that the client would be handled with care and competence. I have always found that to be the case.

I will always recommend Mr. Watkins and Sommers Schwartz.

After meeting Mr. Watkins in person and working with him during the proceedings, I realized that the words in his website bio were true. He is a FIGHTER for his clients. No matter what time of day I called, he immediately returned my call. I am glad I made an EXCELLENT decision in selecting him.

Our Clients Say It Best

40 5-star reviews on Google