Judge Paul Oetken of the Southern District of New York issued a decision striking down key regulatory restrictions on the ability of workers to use their emergency paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General’s office challenging elements of the Department of Labor’s regulations that significantly impair the ability of workers to use their rights. As the New York Attorney General remarked on Twitter of this decision, “This is a major victory for workers across New York and our entire nation.”
As the pandemic continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of workers across the country, we must take action. Congress must pass the HEROES Act and enact a strong federal paid leave program for all workers and their families. So before the August recess, ask your U.S. Senators to pass the HEROES Act—and spread the word! As proud leading members of the Paid Leave for All campaign, we urge everyone to take action this week so we can work together towards paid leave for all working people.
Our new publication, Families First: Workers' Voices During the Pandemic, features the narratives of dozens of workers we've spoken with through our free legal helpline who are struggling to protect their health, care for their families, and stay afloat economically during these unprecedented times. Featured within are stories from workers across 26 states, many of whom have been unable to access emergency leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) due to significant loopholes in the law, and are left with little recourse to avoid jeopardizing their health or their economic security.
Mothers have long faced economic inequality in the United States. Early June marked Moms’ Equal Pay Day, symbolizing how long it took moms to earn what dads earned in 2019. U.S. Census data from 2019 indicated that women working full time in the U.S. earned $0.82 for every dollar that men made in their jobs. However, mothers make just $0.70 for every dollar white, non-Hispanic fathers make. The pandemic has only intensified the problem, as mothers are being forced to choose between their jobs and their caregiving responsibilities.
In reaching this decision, the Court adhered to its precedent, having found a nearly identical Texas law unconstitutional in the 2016 case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. This case is undoubtedly a victory, ensuring that those most impacted by these bans including low-income women, women of color, trans & non-binary people of color, and those in rural communities will retain access to critical services, but also serves as a reminder that we were only one vote away from precedent being overturned. More than that, attacks on reproductive health remain rampant.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision on employment nondiscrimination that will provide critical protections for LGBTQ workers across the United States. The Court issued a 6-3 ruling in favor of the LGBTQ plaintiffs in Bostock, Zarda, and Harris Funeral Homes, three consolidated cases that challenged workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people. In no uncertain terms, the Court’s decision signifies a major victory for equal rights, as the court held that “[a]n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
The FFCRA's groundbreaking paid leave provisions provide essential protections to millions of workers, but a combination of statutory and regulatory exceptions potentially leave out as many as 106 million employees nationwide. For precarious workers who too often fall through the cracks of workplace protections, like temporary, part-time, and domestic workers, the law represents an unprecedented breakthrough with some significant and challenging gaps.
Especially as governments lift stay at home orders, it is important for workers to know their rights. We have released a series of videos from our legal experts to help workers understand their rights when affected by COVID-19, so they will be empowered to exercise them. Please join us in sharing these videos with the hashtag #JusticeForWorkers.
Through our free legal helpline, we’ve been hearing from workers across the country who are facing economic insecurity and struggling to care for themselves and their loved ones due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides critical emergency paid sick leave and paid family leave rights for many workers during this pandemic—but too many workers, including those at large corporations, are excluded from the law.
In March, Congress passed a new law called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Among other emergency protections, the law creates new tax credits for freelancers and other self-employed people to compensate for lost income when you cannot work for certain coronavirus-related reasons. Here’s what freelancers need to know about how to access these credits.