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 a longtime leader in the push for paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave protections nationwide, we have been fighting to make sure the needs of all America’s workers on the frontlines of this crisis are protected and supported. The COVID-19 public health emergency has put a spotlight on the reality that for too many workers, an illness, a sick family member, or the loss of a job can lead to financial ruin.
We congratulate Congress for passing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act, and taking important steps to address the needs of our workforce during this crisis. These laws for the first time provide a national right to paid sick leave for many workers, and expand the right to unemployment insurance to many more workers who were previously excluded.
Unfortunately, there are still too many workers and families left out from these critical protections. Workers at large businesses and many small businesses—including many grocery store, delivery, and manufacturing workers who are considered essential—have no legal guarantee of any paid leave to care for themselves and their loved ones during this emergency. And the rights in these new laws address only the current crisis. We will continue to push for paid leave for all through the PAID Leave Act, to protect the long term health and economic security of workers across the nation.