Quarantined Employees Entitled to Back Pay After Employers Denied Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor
May 5, 2020
After investigations by the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), an employer in California and another in Arizona each must pay back wages for denying paid leave under the newly passed Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) to employees who had been under quarantine for possible COVID-19 exposure. EPSLA is part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which went into effect on April 1, 2020.
Discount Tire Centers of Anaheim, California, will pay their employee $2,606 and also agreed to comply with the FFCRA in the future. The employee's healthcare provider had advised that he self-quarantine while awaiting a family member's test for coronavirus. But after Discount Tire Centers received documentation of his doctor's instructions to self-quarantine, the company denied the complainant's request for paid leave under the EPSLA, mistakenly believing that the employee had to submit proof of a positive coronavirus test to qualify for the paid leave.
In Tucson, Arizona, Bear Creek Electrical will pay an employee $1,600 for refusing to provide him with emergency paid sick leave under the law. The company had received documentation of his doctor's instructions to self-quarantine because the employee showed potential coronavirus symptoms.
Among other reasons, leave is qualified under the EPSLA when an employee:
- Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to
- Is caring for an individual who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
The employers were required only to pay the employees back pay in these cases, which arose while the WHD was observing a temporary period of non-enforcement of the FFCRA to provide employers time to come into compliance with the new law. That non-enforcement period ended on April 17, 2020, meaning violations of the EPSLA are now subject to the Fair Labor Standard Act's penalty and enforcement provisions.