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U.S. Department of Labor orders LaGrange Ashley HomeStore to pay back wages to employee

A U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation has resulted in the LaGrange location of Ashley HomeStore being forced to pay $1,040 in back wages to an employee that had to self-quarantine due to coronavirus-related concerns.

According to a Department of Labor news release, Future Furniture Inc., doing business as Ashley HomeStore in LaGrange, violated the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provision of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires covered employers to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to eligible workers.

Lamar Campbell of Ashley HomeStore in LaGrange said there was no investigation to his knowledge.

“Being unfamiliar with the Act, we contacted the U.S. Department of Labor to inquire how these payments should be shown (sick leave, salary continuation, etc.). The Mobile, Alabama office contacted us and said this was new to everyone,” Campbell said. “COVID-19 the officer said to list it as Emergency Sick Leave. At that point, we just simply paid the employee the money within the same month. This happened more than two months ago. In other words, we contacted the U.S. Department of Labor for guidance. It is a gross mischaracterization to say that Ashley HomeStore was investigated, that it violated any Act, or that it was ordered to pay anything.”

In the press release, Atlanta Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Juan Coria said his team was “working vigorously to educate employers about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and their responsibilities under this new law.”

“The FFCRA provides vital relief for both workers and employers,” Coria said. “We encourage everyone to use the tools and information we provide to learn about the benefits and protections available under this new law. Anyone with questions is encouraged to call us directly to speak with a trained professional to have those questions answered.”

The FFCRA provides tax credits to American businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide employees with paid leave for employees’ health needs or to care for family members.

According to the release, the FFCRA “enables employers to provide paid leave reimbursed by tax credits, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.”

More information about the current law is available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic or by calling 866-4US-WAGE.

According to the release, the Wage and Hour division’s mission is to “promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act,” as well as a number of other labor laws.