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New York Challenges FFCRA Leave Rules

Labor & Employment Labor & Employment

On April 14, 2020, the State of New York filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor challenging the DOL’s regulations, governing implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers to provide emergency paid sick leave and FMLA leave to employees for reasons related to COVID-19.

In its lawsuit, the State of New York argues that the DOL improperly restricted the availability of leave to millions of employees by excluding employees whose workplaces are closed under state shelter in place and stay at home orders, and by adopting an excessively broad definition of “health care provider.”

The lawsuit also challenges the temporary rule’s provisions concerning intermittent leave and the documentation employees must provide with their leave request before a request may be granted.

In support of its lawsuit, New York argues that Congress intended to ensure upwards of 61 million employees across the U.S. receive pay while on leave to cover necessary expenses and support the economy. New York alleges that the DOL’s temporary rules preclude many of these intended beneficiaries from using leave under the Act.

For the time being, employers should continue to comply with the regulations and guidance published by the Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service. However, this and other lawsuits, and possibly even further legislation, may well require employers to change course yet again. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.