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Kamala Harris Challenges Large Employers on Coronavirus Sick Leave

August 22nd, 2020 Victoria Breese

Kamala Harris recently made headlines after formally accepting the Democratic Vice Presidential nomination. However, before Joe Biden picked Harris as his VP candidate, she stood up to big employers regarding their Coronavirus paid sick leave policies. Last March, as the pandemic was first hitting the United States, Kamala Harris sent a letter to the CEOs of 36 big employers — such as McDonald’s, Walmart, and Burger King — in which she demanded they “put public health ahead of profits.” Harris recommended that these employers grant at least two weeks of paid sick leave and 10 weeks of family and medical leave for all employees during the pandemic.

Kamala Harris Publicly Calls Out Large Employers

Kamala Harris’ letter asked large employers to “protect our workers and protect our nation” with more robust paid sick leave policies. Although some U.S. employers were mandated to provide paid sick leave under the Coronavirus stimulus legislation, employers with more than 500 employees were exempt. So, Harris took to social media to call out these large employers by name. On Twitter, Harris wrote: “Unacceptable that these companies aren’t providing adequate paid leave for all their workers right now. I’ve sent a letter calling on them to do so immediately: McDonald’s, Walmart, Kroger, Subway, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Target, Marriott, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Dollar General.” 

Importance of Sick Leave During a Pandemic

Importantly, Kamala Harris’ letter pointed out that “working Americans across industries are facing challenges deciding if they should go into work sick or forgo a paycheck.” When workers don’t have adequate paid sick leave, some will inevitably still come to work when they are sick. Many workers feel like they have to make this choice because they cannot survive without a paycheck. Of course, sick employees in the workplace will also increase the severity of the pandemic. One solution is to implement more robust paid sick leave laws. For example, according to U.S. Census data, the exemption for large businesses in the Coronavirus stimulus bill meant that roughly 53% of workers were not covered. Another solution is for private employers to modify their internal sick leave policies. For example, following Kamala Harris’ letter, Walmart introduced a new emergency leave policy which provided 2 weeks of paid sick leave for workers who had the virus or were exposed to it. If Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are ultimately elected in November, U.S. employers may experience more pressure to alter their paid sick leave policies. 

Seek Legal Assistance Today

If your employer has denied you sick leave, seek legal assistance today. The Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.