Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor took more action to aid American workers and employers as our nation combats the coronavirus pandemic.

Reopening America’s Economy

John Pallasch, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employment and Training Administration,  issued the following statement regarding Weekly Unemployment Claims:  

“As Americans continue to return to work, today’s report showed a huge decrease of one million individuals coming off of unemployment insurance rolls. The four week average initial weekly claim numbers, which takes out much of the volatility of weekly claims, hit the lowest point since the start of the pandemic.”

Keeping America’s Workplaces Safe and Healthy

OSHA Announces $1,603,544 In Coronavirus Violations. OSHA has cited 112 establishments for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $1,603,544.

Keeping workplaces safe during COVID-19 – Read OSHA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt’s op-ed about keeping America’s workers safe.

OSHA has published a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on how N95 respirators effectively protect wearers from coronavirus exposure.

Defending Workers’ Rights to Paid Leave and Wages Earned

Leavenworth County, Kansas to Pay Back Wages to Employee Wrongly Denied Paid Leave for Coronavirus-Related School Closure. Leavenworth County, Kansas, has agreed to pay an employee $4,998 in back wages after the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) determined the employer wrongly denied the employee’s request for paid leave to care for their child whose school closed amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Wage and Hour Division found the employer also wrongly terminated the employee for allegedly misrepresenting their spouse’s ability to care for the child during the school closure.

Wichita, Kansas, Best Western Pays 13 Employees Back Wages After Wrongly Denying Paid Sick Leave for Required Coronavirus Quarantine. After an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, a hotel based in Wichita, Kansas, has paid $5,693 in back wages for wrongly denying paid sick leave to 13 employees required to quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Montana Company Pays Back Wages to Employee Wrongly Denied Paid Sick Leave After Doctor Ordered Coronavirus-Related Quarantine. The operator of  Plentywood, Montana, a facility for people with disabilities, has paid $1,600 in back wages to an employee after the employer wrongly denied emergency paid sick leave.  She was fired despite the employee being advised by her healthcare provider to quarantine due to the coronavirus’s concerns. This is a violation of provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Labor focuses on protecting the safety and health of American workers, assisting our state partners as they deliver traditional unemployment and expanded unemployment benefits, ensuring Americans know their rights to new paid sick leave and extended family and medical leave, providing guidance and assistance to employers, and carrying out the mission of the Department.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.