News Release

El Paso Plumbing Contractor Pays Back Wages to Employee After Denying Paid Leave to Care for Children Whose School Closed for Coronavirus

EL PASO, TX – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Texas MEP Contractors LLC – a plumbing contractor based in El Paso, Texas – has paid $804 in back wages to an employee wrongly denied paid sick leave for a qualifying reason covered under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Investigators determined that Texas MEP Contractors LLC was required to pay the single father for time needed away from work to care for his school-aged children when their school closed for coronavirus-related reasons. The FFCRA allows employees to take paid leave when caring for their son or daughter whose school or whose child care provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus.

Texas MEP Contractors LLC cooperated fully with investigators and, once it understood its responsibility under the new law, agreed to pay the employee’s full wages for the days he needed to miss work to care for his children. The employer agreed to future compliance with the FFCRA, which went into effect on April 1, 2020. The employer also agreed to provide the employee an additional 10 weeks of leave, if needed, as permitted under the FFCRA.

“The U.S. Department of Labor remains committed to ensuring employers understand the new law and employees are provided the time off they need during these challenging times,” said Wage and Hour District Director Evelyn Sanchez in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “This law exists so that workers are not forced to choose between their health, their families, or their jobs as America continues to re-open in the wake of the pandemic.”

The Department of Labor encourages employers and employees to contact WHD for assistance to improve their understanding of new requirements under the FFCRA 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 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 this new law, including an online webinar to inform employers of their responsibilities. For more information about the laws enforced by WHD, call 866-4US-WAGE, or visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.

The mission of WHD 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
August 11, 2020
Release Number
20-1215-DAL
Contact: Chauntra Rideaux
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