• Joshua C. Black

Department of Labor Cracks Down: Local Business Violates Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

By Gregory C. Sinning, Esq. & Joshua C. Black, Esq.

A Tucson, Arizona based company is being forced to pay back-wages after it refused to provide paid sick leave under the newly passed Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”). The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) conducted an investigation after an affected worker (“the Worker”) disclosed he was not provided paid sick leave.

During the investigation, the WHD investigators discovered Bear Creek Electrical failed to pay the Worker for the qualified paid sick leave. Bear Creek Electrical received documentation from the Worker that his doctor ordered the Worker to self-quarantine. The doctor gave the order to self-quarantine because the Worker had potential coronavirus (“COVID-19”) symptoms.

As discussed in a previous article, the EPSLA provides sick pay for employees affected by COVID-19. An employee qualifies for emergency paid sick leave under the EPSLA if: (1) the employee is sick with or has been quarantined due to COVID-19; (2) is experiencing symptoms of the disease and is seeking medical attention; (3) is caring for someone in the first two scenarios; or (4) is caring for a child in the event of a school closure or unavailable child care provider. The EPSLA does include language that allows for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to expand these scenarios if the need arises. The Worker at Bear Creek Electrical was experiencing symptoms and seeking medical attention. Based on this information, the WHD determined the Worker qualified for the EPSLA and ordered Bear Creek Electrical to pay the back-wages to the Worker. Bear Creek paid the Worker’s full wages of $20 per hour for 80 hours of leave for a total of $1,600.00.

This case is a signal to all employees that the U.S. Department of Labor is working to protect employee rights during this trying time.

If you have any additional questions or concerns about EPSLA, or if you feel that your rights have been violated by your employer, please do not hesitate to reach out to the authors. Mr. Black and Mr. Sinning may be reached at the Law Office of Joshua Black, PLC by telephone at 623-738-2225 or through the firm’s website www.azemploymentlawyer.com.

See full text of H.R. 6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act, last visited May 18, 2020 at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6201/text.

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