COVID-19 & Your Business: Frequent Questions

What are the penalties for not providing EPSLA or EFMLEA leave or retaliating against employees who take such leave? (29 CFR 826.150)

The EPSLA prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining, or discriminating against any employee because the employee took paid sick leave, initiated a proceeding under or related to paid sick leave, or testified or is about to testify in such a proceeding. Employers that do so may be liable for lost pay and even compensatory and punitive damages.

An employer who fails to pay EPSLA sick leave is considered to have failed to pay minimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Such employers can be held liable for amounts equal to the federal minimum wage for each hour of paid sick leave denied, an additional equal amount as liquidated damages, and costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. Moreover, an employer can pursue a collective action that other affected employees can join. The Secretary of Labor can also pursue enforcement actions.

As to EFMLEA leave, employers may not (a) interfere with, restrain, or deny an employee’s exercise of or attempt to exercise EFMLEA leave, (b) discriminate against an employee for opposing an employer’s refusal to allow EFMLEA leave, or (c) interfere with attempts to enforce EFMLEA leave. Again, the Secretary of Labor can investigate alleged violations of the requirement to provide EFMLEA leave.

Last updated April 9

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