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Two New York State Unions Sue Over Paid Coronavirus Quarantine Leave

Published Sunday, January 17, 2021
by Dave McQuilling/
Two New York State Unions Sue Over Paid Coronavirus Quarantine Leave

(ALBANY, NEW YORK) – The New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) and the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) have both filed lawsuits regarding their Members’ access to paid Coronavirus Quarantine Leave.

PEF is suing three state agencies: the Department of Civil Service (DCS); the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS); and the Office of Mental Health (OMH), claiming New York State has “irrationally and improperly deprived Union Members of their guaranteed right to Paid COVID-19 Quarantine Leave.”

Citing a policy issued by the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations in March 2020, PEF claims its Members who have been placed in mandatory quarantine by state or local health officials are entitled to paid leave without charge to accruals, for all workdays within a two-week period.

PEF President Wayne Spence said: “Our lawsuit asserts that state employers have irrationally and improperly deprived our Members of their guaranteed right to Paid Quarantine Leave during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The infection rate is higher than it’s ever been and people are probably going to have to quarantine again.  For some insane reason, agency leaders and managers are bringing more and more Workers back into the office and creating a vicious cycle of positive tests, mandatory quarantines, and most importantly - putting the health of my Union’s Members at risk.  It’s ridiculous and ludicrous to ask State Workers to come back to work when they demonstrated they can successfully telecommute.  The New York State workforce has been providing services since the beginning of this pandemic without a hiccup.  PEF has shown that telecommuting works.  We followed the science and flattened the curve.  They also point towards a law enacted by the State Legislature, which specifically says employees: ‘shall be provided with at least fourteen days of paid sick leave during any mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine.’”

NYSCOPBA also claims their Members who have been placed in mandatory quarantine or have had to quarantine for more than 14-days have had paid leave improperly withheld and have filed lawsuits against the New York Department of Corrections and Department of Civil Service.

The Union’s lawsuit alleges the Department of Corrections have only provided a maximum of one 14-day block of paid leave to its Members who were quarantined.

NYSCOPBA President, Michael Powers claims in a statement that Correctional Officers are at constant risk of infection and unable to work remotely due to the nature of their job.

He claims some Members have been placed on two or three mandatory quarantines after being exposed to the virus while on duty.

Powers goes on to say NYSCOPBA Members who have been quarantined multiple times have been forced to use personal leave or go without pay when “State Law provides paid leave for them without charge to their accruals.”

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