The California Labor Commissioner’s Office cited three El Super grocery stores in Southern California for failing to provide or delaying supplemental paid sick leave or other benefits to 95 workers impacted by COVID-19.
Some of the workers were reportedly forced to work while sick, others were told to apply for unemployment while quarantining or in isolation, while others waited months to be paid.
The citations were issued to Bodega Latina Corp., a Delaware corporation doing business as El Super with 52 stores in California.
The following locations in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties were cited:
- 1100 W Slauson Avenue, Los Angeles 90044
- 10721 Atlantic Avenue, Lynwood 90262
- 14590 Bear Valley Road # 28, Victorville 92395
The Labor Commissioner’s Office opened an investigation on Sept. 9, 2020 after receiving complaints from workers and a referral from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union representing grocery store workers.
The investigators determined the employer did not consistently inform workers of their rights to SPSL if impacted by COVID-19. In some instances, sick workers were reportedly told to come to work until they received their test results even when they had COVID-19 symptoms. To cover isolation time, workers were in some cases reportedly told to apply for unemployment or disability. Moreover, many were denied time off to isolate, even though members of their household had tested positive. Some workers were never paid for their time off due to COVID-19.
The citations include $114,741.67 in wages, damages and interest for failing to provide leave under 2020 COVID-19 SPSL for food sector workers, and $14,894.66 in wages, damages and interest for failing to provide leave under 2021 COVID-19 SPSL for employers with 26 or more employeesIn addition, $318,200 was assessed in penalties for nonpayment or late payment of SPSL.
The 2021 SPSL, which went into effect on March 29 and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021, requires that California workers are provided up to two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave if they are affected by COVID-19.
Among the key updates in the legislation, leave time also applies to attending a COVID-19 vaccine appointment and recovering from symptoms related to the vaccine. The law is in effect until Sept. 30, 2021. Small businesses employing 25 or fewer workers are exempt from the law but may offer supplemental paid sick leave and receive a federal tax credit, if eligible.
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