News Release

Tucson, Arizona, Company to Pay Back Wages After Denying Paid Sick Leave To Worker Whose Doctor Ordered Coronavirus Quarantine

TUCSON, AZ – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Bear Creek Electrical – an electrical company based in Tucson, Arizona – will pay one employee $1,600 for refusing to provide him sick leave under the newly passed Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act after health care providers ordered him to self-quarantine with potential coronavirus symptoms.

WHD investigators found that Bear Creek Electrical failed to pay the employee for what qualified as paid sick leave covering the hours he spent at home after the company received documentation of his doctor’s instructions to self-quarantine. The employer will pay the employee’s full wages of $20 an hour for 80 hours of leave. The affected worker disclosed to WHD that he lives paycheck to paycheck and is depending on this payment to continue supporting his wife and children, to cover rent, and to pay other bills. Bear Creek Electrical also agreed to future compliance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which went into effect on April 1, 2020.

“This case should serve as a signal to others that the U.S. Department of Labor is working to protect employee rights during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Wage and Hour District Director Eric Murray in Phoenix, Arizona. “We encourage employers and employees to call us for assistance to improve their understanding of new labor standards under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and use our educational online tools to avoid violations like those found in this investigation.”

The FFCRA helps the U.S. combat and defeat the workplace effects of the coronavirus by giving tax credits to all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide employees with paid leave for the employee’s own health needs, or to care for family members. The law enables employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.

WHD provides additional information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to the coronavirus and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and on job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

For more information about the laws enforced by WHD, call 866-4US-WAGE, or visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd

For further information about COVID-19, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
April 23, 2020
Release Number
20-664-SAN
Contact: Leo Kay
Phone Number
Contact: Jose Carnevali
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