A Small Business Owner Tells His Story – And What He Needs From Congress

Date: August 05, 2020

NFIB is fighting to secure COVID-19 liability protections for small business. It’s one of our top priorities for the next round of pandemic relief legislation.

Jeff Hastings never expected a global pandemic. But once it arrived, the owner of Burke Brothers Hardware in Raleigh, North Carolina went the extra mile to keep his customers, workers, and community safe. 

As Jeff tells it, “We put the six-foot social distancing stickers on the floor before it was ever mandated. We actually created a separate entrance and exit. We had a single double door entrance-exit but we sort of re-routed people around to our garden center so we’d have a separate entrance and exit. And we did plexiglass shields at the registers and instituted wearing masks for staff.”

Jeff Hastings, NFIB member and owner of Burke Brothers Hardware in Raleigh, North Carolina

Like most small business owners, Jeff is no stranger to late nights and early mornings. But the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic had him working even harder to make his store ready. As he puts it, “we’re always looking at how we can be good stewards to our community.”

Jeff’s hard work has paid off: “We’re extremely fortunate in that our sales are up… we’ve been doing really well.”

But now Jeff worries that his business faces a new threat. Even though his business went above and beyond on safety precautions, he knows it could only be a matter of time before his hardware store gets sued.

Jeff is calling on Congress to enact strong liability protections for companies like his. This policy would stop trial lawyers from filing frivolous lawsuits against businesses that make good-faith efforts to protect their workers and customers. Without a liability shield, countless small businesses could be crushed by trial lawyers looking to make a quick buck. The consequences would be disastrous – more shuttered stores, more lost jobs, and more communities struggling to recover.

Jeff puts it this way: “I don’t think Congress necessarily understands my position.” Along with tens of thousands of other small businesses, he’s asking for simple “safe harbor legislation that will help [with] liability.”

As the voice of small business in Washington, D.C., NFIB has been fighting around the clock to secure a liability shield for small business. It’s one of our top priorities for the next round of pandemic relief.

NFIB’s experts and members have led the charge to make this happen. They’ve taken to the pages of America’s newspapers and the airwaves of America’s broadcasters and delivered our members’ message to the lawmakers who most need to hear it.

With legislative action possible in the coming days, NFIB has made it clear: A liability shield is non-negotiable for Main Street.

We need your help to get this common-sense policy passed. The more small businesses who lend us their support, the more likely it is a liability shield will pass. If you would like to stand up and speak out on this critical issue, please consider using our easy template email tool to contact your Members of Congress.

Jeff Hastings says that NFIB gives small business “a unified voice.” He participated in NFIB’s 2019 Fly-in, and “in a matter of 48 hours we had meetings with both senators” and “five different congressmen.” Following the Fly-In, Jeff hosted his Member of Congress for a Small Business Challenge event. He’s also planning to join NFIB’s Virtual Fly-In later this month. There, NFIB will empower him and thousands of other small business owners to engage directly with Congress.

As NFIB continues to lead on this issue, we’d like to hear your personal stories. Your story can literally shape the legislation under consideration in Congress.

We also value your support and membership. When you join NFIB, you elevate your voice. And together, we will deliver more policy victories for small businesses like you.

Subscribe For Free News And Tips

Enter your email to get FREE small business insights. Learn more

Get to know NFIB

NFIB is a member-driven organization advocating on behalf of small and independent businesses nationwide.

Learn More

Or call us today

© 2001 - 2022 National Federation of Independent Business. All Rights Reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy