Levy Ratner filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Service Employees International Union and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East supporting the New York State Attorney General’s lawsuit challenging the Trump Department of Labor’s regulations interpreting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The amicus brief supports the NYS Attorney General’s argument that the federal regulations create unlawful and unjustifiable loopholes in the federal law that allow employers to deny paid sick leave and emergency family leave to millions of workers just when they need it most.
One of those loopholes is the regulations’ overly expansive definition of “health care provider.” While similar statutes limit the term “health care provider” to medical doctors, osteopaths, dentists and similarly licensed health professionals, the U.S. Department of Labor applies that term in the law to all employees of a health care institution, or any entity that contracts with a health care institution. In doing so, the regulations deprive virtually every healthcare worker of the right to these newly created federal sick leave benefits.
The brief tells the personal stories of real healthcare workers: workers who cared for COVID-19 patients, contracted the virus themselves, and then went for weeks without pay; others who were forced to work while sick because they could not afford to lose pay, thereby risking their own health and the health of their co-workers, patients, and the public; and still others who lost their jobs because they needed to stay home to care for their children when schools were closed and day care was unavailable.
On behalf of SEIU and 1199SEIU, Levy Ratner urged the court to set aside the regulations so that healthcare workers – the people who are caring for the sick and who are keeping our hospitals, nursing homes and clinics operational in a pandemic — can benefit from the safety nets Congress intended to provide during this unprecedented health and economic crisis.