Dept. of Labor orders company to pay back-wages after denying paid sick leave for self-quarantining

AUSTIN, Texas – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Black Swan Inc. – a delivery service contractor based in Austin, Texas – has paid $800 in back wages to an employee for wrongly denying paid sick leave for a qualifying reason under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). FFCRA allows employees to take paid leave when advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine or while seeking a medical diagnosis.

WHD investigators found that Black Swan Inc. failed to provide the employee paid sick leave despite a healthcare provider’s order to self-quarantine for two weeks. As a FedEx contractor, the employer thought they were not covered by the Act because they provided services for FedEx, an employer with more than 500 employees. As a contractor with less than 500 employees, Black Swan is not exempt from FFCRA provisions.

Black Swan cooperated fully with investigators and, once it understood its responsibility under the new law, agreed to pay the employee’s wages for the days covered by paid sick leave. The employer also agreed to future compliance with the FFCRA, which went into effect on April 1, 2020.

“Employers should familiarize themselves with the new law and pay employees for time off as required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” said Wage and Hour District Director Nicole Sellers in Austin, Texas. “The U.S. Department of Labor remains committed to protecting employees and educating employers so that all parties receive the benefits and protections the law provides.”

The Department encourages employers and employees to contact us for assistance to improve their understanding of new labor standards under the FFCRA and use our educational online tools to avoid violations like those found in this investigation.

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.