U.S. District Court of Southern District of New York Invalidates Portions of FFCRA

On August 3, 2020, the U.S. District Court of New York (SDNY) issued a ruling invalidating features of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), specifically involving the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). SDNY’s jurisdiction covers the counties of New York, Bronx, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, and Sullivan.

According to the ruling:

  • The work-availability requirement “unduly restricts paid leave,” is inconsistent with the FFCRA, and is invalid.
  • The final rule’s definition of a healthcare provider “cannot stand” because it “[e]xceeds the DOL’s authority” and is overly broad. An employer may exclude healthcare providers or emergency responders from leave benefits under the FFCRA so the final rule’s definition (that includes “employees whose roles bear no nexus whatsoever to the provision of healthcare services”) may have “grave consequences for employees” who could be unjustly denied leave benefits under the FFCRA.
  • The final rule's requirement of employer consent for intermittent leave under the EPSLA were invalidated.
  • The final rule’s requirement that employees submit documentation to their employer, prior to taking FFCRA leave, that provides their reason for, duration of, and proper authority authorizing isolation or quarantine (when applicable) was invalidated. “The documentation requirements, to the extent they are a precondition to leave, cannot stand.”

It is predicted that this ruling will be appealed. We will be following the case, and its continued impact, throughout the legal process.