News Release

San Francisco Grocery Store to Pay Back Wages After Denying Paid Sick Leave to Worker Whose Children’s School Closed Due to Coronavirus

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA – After an investigation by  U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found a South San Francisco chain grocery store location failed to provide paid sick leave benefits to an employee forced to stay at home to care for children whose school closed due to the coronavirus, the employer agreed to pay the required benefits.

The operators of the Grocery Outlet store – a chain of more than 300 locations nationwide – denied the employee’s request for leave covered under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), and asked for additional documentation regarding the paid time off. The employer misunderstood the EPSLA provisions in the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and incorrectly believed it did not have to pay the first two of the 12 weeks requested.

After consultation with WHD, the employer paid the employee $826 in back wages and agreed to change its FFCRA leave request forms to comply with the law.

“We will continue to work with employers to bring them up to speed on paid sick leave and other provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” said Wage and Hour District Director Susana Blanco in San Jose, California. “We encourage employers and employees to call us for assistance and review our online tools to improve their understanding of the new labor standards during this difficult time.

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 continues to provide updated information on its website and through extensive outreach efforts to ensure that workers and employers have the information they need about the benefits and protections of the FFCRA. 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. WHD offers a search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.

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
20-988-SAN
Contact: Leo Kay
Phone Number
Contact: Jose Carnevali
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