Mark Cuban says how companies treat workers during pandemic could define brand ‘for decades’

Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban on Wednesday warned companies against sending employees back to work too soon during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Not only is it a safety issue, it’s a business issue,” Cuban said on CNBC’s “Markets in Turmoil” special. 

“How companies respond to that very question is going to define their brand for decades. If you rushed in and somebody got sick, you were that company. If you didn’t take care of your employees or stakeholders and put them first, you were that company,” he added. 

Cuban’s comments come on the heels of President Donald Trump’s push in recent days to “open” the U.S. economy back up, potentially by Easter on April 12. Trump has said he does not want the “cure” to the coronavirus pandemic to be worse than the problem. 

Trump has since tried to back off his suggestion of having “packed churches” on Easter. “We’ll only do it if it’s good,” Trump said Tuesday night, adding that he is “very much in touch” with White House experts.

Public health officials warned that sending people back to work before the spread of COVID-19 is under control would be problematic. They continue to urge Americans to take social distancing seriously to stop the transmission of the respiratory disease, for which there is no known cure. 

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the U.S. There were more than 65,000 in the country as of Wednesday night, according to data from Johns Hopkins University

“There’s no reason to rush this. I’d rather err on the side of caution. I’m not going to tell people to go to work when I’m uncertain,” said Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. 

Sending employees back to work too quickly may be “unforgivable” in the eyes of younger Americans, too, Cuban said. “So not only is it smart to take care of your employees, but it’s also good business and that’s the way I’m looking at it.” 

The always-outspoken Cuban has been particularly vocal during the coronavirus pandemic.

He was quick to pledge support for hourly workers at the Mavericks’ arena after the NBA put its season on pause, and the Mavericks organization launched a program to pay for the child care of health-care workers. 

Cuban also has put pressure on lawmakers in Washington as they negotiate economic relief packages, arguing companies that receive financial assistance should be prevented from buying back their stock. He has argued assistance must be designed to reduce inequality between executives and workers.

– CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report. 

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