New York sues U.S. Department of Labor

On April 14, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) arguing that it violated the terms of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) with a new temporary rule. James asked the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to block that regulation.

James argued that the new DOL temporary rule “narrows workers’ eligibility for emergency family leave and paid sick leave” under the FFCRA. In a press release announcing her lawsuit, James claimed the DOL violated the FFCRA in the following four ways:
1. Denying paid sick leave to employees if an employer claims not to have work for the employee to do
2. Giving _health care provider_ too broad a definition
3. Requiring employer consent before employees may split up when they take paid sick leave
4. Requiring certain documentation before employees are eligible for paid sick leave

James cited the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and said the court must block the DOL rule because it is “not in accordance with law.” Section 706 of the APA establishes judicial review of agency actions and instructs courts to hold unlawful and set aside rules that violate laws. The APA is the 1946 federal law that governs things like agency rulemaking, adjudication, and judicial review of agency actions.

The DOL published the temporary rule in the _Federal Register_ on April 6 to implement changes to paid sick leave laws passed in response to COVID-19. According to the text of the rule, the DOL implemented the regulation to ensure consistency between the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.

The DOL argued in the text of the temporary rule that the COVID-19 pandemic gave the agency good cause to implement the rule without a public notice and comment period. The APA allows agencies to implement rules immediately when they find that normal rulemaking procedures would be impractical, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest. The DOL gave the temporary rule a December 31, 2020, expiration date.

To learn more about Letitia James and judicial review of administrative actions, click here.