Grocery chain El Super fined $447K for not providing COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave at three Southern California locations

Coronavirus

LOS ANGELES, CA. (BRPROUD) – Earlier this week, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office announced it was issuing a $447,836 fine to the grocery store chain El Super for not providing or delaying supplemental COVID-19 sick leave to employees at three stores in Southern California.

The grocery chain is accused of violating California’s supplemental paid sick leave labor codes, passed last year with the goal of helping workers avoid having to choose between getting paid and coming into work sick with COVID-19 by mandating employers provide paid time off in certain situations.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office says El Super employees at locations in Los Angeles, Lynwood, and Victorville with COVID-19 symptoms were made to come into work while awaiting test results, told to apply for unemployment while quarantining, or even denied time to isolate after a member of their household tested positive.

“Supplemental paid sick leave is intended to protect workers from being forced to choose between their health and providing for their families,” said Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower in a press release on Tuesday. “These violations expose workers, their families and El Super’s customers to unnecessary health risks.”

El Super says it intends to dispute the fine.

“The claims made in recent media reports referencing a citation from California Labor Commissioner regarding supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) are false. We are, and have always been, committed to complying with labor laws.” said a spokesperson for El Super. “For months, we have attempted to work with the Labor Commissioner in order to provide evidence of compliance with SPSL. We are disappointed that the Labor Commissioner acted without completing their investigation.  The citation is without merit and we will vigorously defend our record of compliance.  We have filed an appeal and are confident that when all the facts are known, we will prevail in Court.”

The Bodega Latina Corporation, which owns El Super, has been involved in several National Labor Relations Board cases involving paid time off. In 2017, El Super was found to have wrongfully denied an employee’s request for paid time off for an emergency medial leave in retaliation for pro-union activities.

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