November 18, 2022

The Week in FFCRA Complaints

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which came into effect on April 1, is a bill aimed at providing a host of stop-gap measures to ensure workers have some economic and workplace rights in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Among the measures were stipulations for enhanced food stamp funding, 14 days of paid leave for workers affected by Covid and free testing. 

As part of our ongoing coverage of how coronavirus is affecting workplace conditions and employment rights, we are providing a weekly summary of complaints filed to challenge alleged FFCRA violations. These include issues around remote work, caregiving, and workplace safety. We hope to provide you with a list of cases every week and to highlight some of them here to keep you apprised of the changing legal landscape which will surely have a significant impact on the way New Yorkers, and all Americans, will do business in the coming months. 

  • Palmer v., Inc. (E.D.N.Y.)
  • Amazon warehouse workers and some of their family members are suing the company for failing to follow New York labor law and state and federal public health guidelines at a Staten Island warehouse during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Plaintiffs allege Amazon's actions led to the death of at least one worker and caused other workers to bring the virus home to their families. The suit accuses Amazon of prioritizing productivity over keeping sick workers home and instituting proper hygiene and social distancing practices at its facilities. Following the suit's filing, Amazon told Law360 it always followed federal and state health guidance and complied with all laws. The company also said it has passed all 91 inspections it received from state health and safety regulatory agencies since March.
  • Lin v. CGIT Systems, Inc. (D. Mass) [remote work]
  • Plaintiff, a Chinese-American engineer, is suing his employer for disability, age, and race/national origin discrimination and retaliation under Massachusetts law for firing him to "make an example" out of his refusal to work from the office during the Covid-19 pandemic. Plaintiff has high blood pressure and lives with his 81-year-old mother, who has heart disease, a pacemaker, high blood pressure and diabetes. Three days after he was terminated, an employee tested positive and the entire office was instructed to work from home.
  • Stivers v. Indiana Limestone Acquisition, LLC (S.D.I.N.) [leave for loss of caregiver]
  • Plaintiff, a limestone sawyer sued his employer, a limestone company, under FFCRA and FMLA for not paying him through his approved leave, not preserving his employment, and retaliating with termination.
  • When Plaintiff's mother, the child-care provider of his one-year-old child, was ordered to self-quarantine for a month due to Covid-19 symptoms, Plaintiff sought to take leave. His employer also required Plaintiff to quarantine himself for at least two weeks after he reported his mother's quarantine to HR. Plaintiff's one-month leave was approved and he was paid at 2/3 of his regular pay. However, before the month was over, the employer terminated the Plaintiff, saying it was for "reduction in force," and then proceeded to refill the position with someone much less experienced who required significant training.

Other cases for the period June 3-10 are Winters v. Stone Transport Holding, Inc. (E.D.M.I.) [remote work], Reyna v. Cascade Health Services, LLC (S.D.T.X.) [nursing home employee] Kirkpatrick v. Mathis Battery Co. (W.D.K.Y.)

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