Earlier this week a federal court in New York vacated four key provisions of the U.S. DOL’s Final Rule implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In April, the State of New York sued the DOL claiming that the DOL had exceeded its statutory authority in a way that denied FFCRA leave to eligible employees. The District Court largely agreed with the state of New York and vacated four provisions of the DOL’s Final Rule. Specifically, the Court vacated the provisions:
- That employees are only eligible for paid FFCRA leave where the employer had work available (This opens the door for furloughed and laid-off employees to make claims for FFCRA paid leave); This could be huge.
- Defining healthcare providers that can be declared exempt from the protections of the FFCRA. (This would eliminate a health care provider’s ability to exempt it’s employees from the FFCRA.);
- That employees may only take intermittent leave for certain reasons if their employer consents. (This would allow employees to take intermittent leave to care for a child without employer permission.); and
- That employees must provide documentation before taking FFCRA leave. (Employers would still be able to require documentation, just not before the employee began leave.)
Before you start pulling your hair out, we do not know if or how this ruling will impact those of us blessed to live and work in the Fifth Circuit. This ruling was issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Rulings of this Court will ordinarily not be binding on the Federal Courts of Louisiana. However, we can expect similar suits to be filed in other jurisdictions. Of course, if you employ employees in the jurisdiction of the Southern District of New York, this ruling will be controlling if it stands. It is very likely that the DOL will either appeal this judgment on you or amend its Final Rule in such a way to make it compliant with this ruling. In the meantime, employers should make themselves familiar with this ruling and determine what, if any, steps they should take. You can read the opinion here: https://www.fmlainsights.com/wp content/uploads/sites/813/2020/08/State-of-NY-v.-USDOL.pdf I will track the progress of this case through the inevitable appeals process and keep you informed. As always, call me if you have any questions.