News Release

Bakersfield Non-Dairy Product Manufacturer Pays Back Wages After Denying Paid Sick Leave to Worker Caring for Children With Closed School

BAKERSFIELD, CA – An employee of a Bakersfield, California, farm has received $5,402 in back wages after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found the employer wrongfully denied paid sick leave benefits required under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The employee requested leave to stay at home caring for children whose school closed due to the coronavirus. The employee’s spouse is a first responder unable to care for their child with the school closed. 

Califia Farms, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, required the employee to use his own accrued sick leave, leaving the employee fearing termination once he exhausted his accrued leave. After the employer talked with WHD investigators, they agreed to comply and pay the employee.

“Employees should feel confident exercising their rights under the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act. We are very pleased that employers are providing the appropriate relief under these guidelines,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Kimchi Bui in Los Angeles, California. “We encourage employers and employees to call us for assistance and review our online tools to improve their understanding of the new requirements. WHD continues to provide updated information on our website and through extensive outreach efforts to ensure that workers and employers have the information they need about the benefits and protections of this new law.

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 either to provide employees with paid leave for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. Please visit WHD’s “Quick Benefits Tips” for information about how much leave workers may qualify to use, and the wages employers must pay. 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 the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

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
June 25, 2020
Release Number
20-999-SAN
Contact: Leo Kay
Phone Number
Contact: Jose Carnevali
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