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U.S. District Court Judge Rejects Trump Administration Restrictions on COVID-19 Sick Leave

U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken voided parts of a Trump Administration rule that restricted paid sick leave and emergency family leave for workers affected by the coronavirus.

The ruling came in a case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James who argued the U.S. Department of Labor overstepped its authority in denying eligibility to several groups of workers. Specifically, the Trump Administration rule adopted in April to implement the Families First Coronavirus Relief Response Act would have let some employers deny paid sick leave to their employees if the economic downturn associated with COVID-19 resulted in employers having no work available for affected employees.

In his ruling, Oetken struck down this provision of the rule, as well as provisions requiring that workers obtain employer consent for intermittent leave and document their reasons for sick leave in advance. Oetken acknowledged that DOL was under considerable pressure to promulgate the rule quickly but said “…as much as this moment calls for flexibility and ingenuity, it also calls for renewed attention to the guardrails of our government. Here, DOL jumped the rail.”

The case is New York v U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 20-03020.

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