- The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) has filed a lawsuit against American Airlines for allegedly retaliating against ground crew workers who used sick leave by assigning disciplinary points for each sick day taken. DCWP also alleged that American failed to pay sick leave at the required rate, failed to allow employees to use accrued sick leave, illegally required advance notice and medical documentation for leaves shorter than three days and failed to provide the required Notice of Employee Rights, violating the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law.
- The NYC law requires employers with five or more employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in the city to provide paid safe and sick leave to employees. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid safe and sick leave.
- DCWP is seeking approximately $375,000 in restitution for more than 750 ground crew workers (including agents, representatives, fleet service and mechanical employees), along with civil penalties.
At the federal level, the United States provides only unpaid leave for serious illnesses through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and FMLA does not cover all workers. An increasing number of states and municipalities are passing their own paid sick leave laws.
While there have been concerns that paid sick leave requirements can be costly for employers, sick employees coming to work can be costly, too. A National Center for Biotechnology study revealed that ill workers are more likely to get injured on the job and even more likely to have heart attacks. Employees with more cost barriers to medical care also tend to lose more workdays per year than low-income workers without similar cost barriers. And at least one study has noted that workers need 10 or more paid sick leave days to raise the odds they will use those days for preventative care.
After New York City's paid sick leave law passed in 2013, 85% of NYC employers surveyed in 2016 said it had no effect on business costs. And in California, employers don't foot the bill for paid leave. Eligible workers pay into the California State Disability Insurance fund, and the state Employment Development Department pays workers on leave a portion of their wages.