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October 28, 2022

COVID-19 Leave Payments Are Not “Wages” Under New York’s Labor Laws

In Palmer v., Inc., employees at Amazon’s JFK8 fulfillment center challenged workplace COVID-19 policies, practices, and procedures alleging, inter alia, violations of  New York Labor Law (“NYLL”) § 191 for failure to pay, on time and in full, COVID-19 sick leave under New York’s law. The District Court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims.  Last week, however, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the dismissal of some of plaintiffs’ claims and remanded to the District Court for further proceedings, while affirming the dismissal of the NYLL § 191 claim because COVID-19 leave payments are benefits, not wages, given that the employees do not perform any labor at JFK8 while under mandatory or precautionary COVID-19 quarantine or isolation. Thus, Leave Law payments are not “wages” for purposes of NYLL § 191 and are not subject to § 191’s pay frequency requirements.

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