For some workers, paid sick leave is the only way they can take time to manage an illness while still earning enough to pay their bills. Unfortunately, even when paid sick leave is legally guaranteed -- such as in New York City -- many employees skirt the law. In the city, the number of complaints regarding paid sick leave violations rose by about 10 percent since 2016.
Many of the complaints were for employers' refusals to pay for sick leave when employees were absent from work. Others were retaliated against after taking sick leave, and lost their jobs. Certain workers reported more employer violations than others, with minorities who earn under $50,000 annually experiencing over twice as much paid leave discrimination.
One such individual claims his employer retaliated against him by refusing to pay his sick leave when his youngest child was born. He went on to file a claim against his former boss, and was ultimately awarded $2,700 in restitution. The employer was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, which is a common practice for discouraging employers from breaking important laws.
Ongoing misconceptions regarding paid sick leave abound, which unfortunately puts employers at an advantage. Even when aware of their rights, many workers in New York understandably fear retaliation for pushing back against what they know to be unfair or illegal treatment. Workplace discrimination claims are often the most effective way to hold employers responsible for their illegal actions, and successfully pursuing these claims can also help protect future workers from similar experiences.
Source: abc7ny.com, "More New York City workers complain they are denied paid sick leave", Danielle Leigh, Oct. 6, 2017