DOL Settles More Self-Quarantine Cases

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. September 24, 2020
woman lying on her back, self quarantining

​The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently has entered several settlements to resolve Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) self-quarantine cases. Three recent settlements involved businesses that allegedly denied paid sick leave to individuals who medical professionals ordered to self-quarantine due to coronavirus concerns.

We've gathered articles from SHRM Online and other trusted sources on the news.

Atlanta Consulting Firm Agrees to Pay Back Wages

Risk & Insurance Consultants Inc., based in Atlanta, has paid $1,599 in back wages after denying paid sick leave to a worker who received a health care professional's instructions to self-quarantine, the DOL announced Sept. 15. "The U.S. Department of Labor is protecting the American workforce during the coronavirus pandemic by ensuring employers comply with all of the requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act," said Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Juan Coria in Atlanta.

Oklahoma Restaurant Operator Settles

KNM Holdings LLC, operator of Church's Chicken franchise locations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., paid $1,653 in back wages to an employee after it denied the employee's request for paid sick leave to fulfill a health care provider's order to self-quarantine for two weeks, the DOL announced Aug. 28. The DOL also found the company failed to provide required paid leave after the employee reported that the school and child care center of the worker's children were unavailable due to the coronavirus. The employer agreed to future compliance with the FFCRA, which took effect on April 1.

Mobile, Ala., Franchisee Pays Back Wages

The operator of a Smoothie King franchise in Mobile, Ala., paid $918 in back wages to seven employees after denying them emergency paid sick leave, the DOL said. The seven employees took leave while some sought medical diagnosis for suspected coronavirus infection and others followed orders to self-quarantine due to coronavirus exposure at the workplace.

[Need help with legal questions? Check out the new SHRM LegalNetwork.]

Coronavirus-Related Litigation Is Increasing

In the courts, coronavirus-related litigation is increasing each month, with more than 700 lawsuits filed against employers due to alleged violations related to coronavirus.  California has the most cases, followed by New Jersey, Florida, then New York. The most common complaints have involved retaliation, followed by wrongful termination, leaves of absence, workplace safety and discrimination.

Wide Range of Types of Lawsuit

The wide range of types of COVID-19 lawsuits has led some states to enact liability shields to protect employers that act in good faith from coronavirus claims. "Many of the discrimination lawsuits look like typical workplace disputes with a COVID-19 twist," said Melissa Camire, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in New York City. For example, legal issues may be raised if a pregnant employee is furloughed due to the pandemic and is later replaced by a nonpregnant employee.
(SHRM Online)

Some State Laws Are More Expansive than the FFCRA

While the FFCRA applies only to workers at businesses with fewer than 500 employees, some state and local orders provide protection for workers at large employers. For example, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on April 16 ordered that food-service workers at entities with 500 or more employees nationwide receive two weeks of paid sick leave. Newsom's emergency order expires when the statewide stay-at-home mandate is lifted. At least four California cities have expanded paid sick leave for employees of businesses with 500 or more workers. Los Angeles, for example, has an order applying to an employer with 500 or more employees in the city or 2,000 or more employees in the United States.
(SHRM Online)


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