Can we be sued by resident families who say their loved ones contracted COVID-19 because we did not do enough to keep to keep them safe?

The question is not will you be sued but will you be liable for damages. If an organization serving seniors follows all guidelines and procedures established by federal and state authorities to protect residents from contracting COVID, then the organization should not be liable for damages if sued by a family member. Showing that you complied with government-recommended procedures should lead to a court finding of no liability. Thus, if you followed all policies and procedures, you should be less likely to be sued and more likely to prevail if you are sued. 

A few residents recently believed they were missing money or jewelry from their rooms. I hate to say it, but some of our newer employees might be capable of pinching things. How can we tactfully (and legally) search their lockers and question them? No one wants to cast aspersions, but we also cannot let our reputation fly out the window.

An employee handbook should set forth all policies and procedures that apply to employees. That handbook would state that employees cannot steal from residents and that stealing will result in discipline, including termination.

The handbook also should expressly reserve to the employer the right to search the employee or the employee locker for any stolen or other inappropriate materials (such as drugs). If the search finds identifiable resident money or other resident property, then the employer, under the handbook, will have the right to discipline or discharge the employee.