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Grocery stores cited for not providing COVID-19 sick leave


The California Labor Commissioner’s Office announced Tuesday that it has cited three chain grocery stores in Southern California for failing to provide or delaying supplemental paid sick leave or other benefits to 95 workers impacted by COVID-19.

The three El Super stores, run by Bodega Latina Corp., a Paramount, California-based company that operates 52 stores, allegedly forced employees to work while sick and told others to apply for unemployment while quarantining or in isolation, according to a statement from the Labor Commissioner’s office. The chain has been fined $447,836 for a number of violations related to its management of employees during the pandemic.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office opened an investigation in September 2020 after receiving complaints from workers and a referral from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

According to the statement, investigators found:

  • The company did not consistently inform workers of their rights to paid sick leave if affected by COVID-19.
  • In some instances, sick workers were told to come to work until they received their test results even when they had COVID-19 symptoms.
  • To cover isolation time, workers were in some cases told to apply for unemployment or disability benefits.
  • Many were denied time off to isolate, even though members of their household had tested positive.
  • Some workers were never paid for their time off due to COVID-19.

A spokesman for Bodega Latina said Wednesday that the citations are “without merit” and that an appeal is pending.

“We are, and have always been, committed to complying with labor laws,” he wrote in an email. “For months, we have attempted to work with the Labor Commissioner in order to provide evidence of compliance. … We are disappointed that the Labor Commissioner acted without completing their investigation.”