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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING FIGHTS FOR PAID SICK LEAVE FOR AIRLINE WORKERS

~ Herring joins coalition of 19 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of Washington State’s paid sick leave law ~

RICHMOND (May 19, 2020) ­– Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of paid sick leave for airline flight crew workers, benefits that the coalition argue are particularly important to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

 

“We are in the middle of an unprecedented public health crisis with an extremely contagious virus,” said Attorney General Herring. “It is so incredibly important that all workers have adequate paid sick leave during this time but especially those essential workers, like airline employees, who come into contact with hundreds or thousands of people a day who could potentially infect them. We must do everything we can to support and encourage those who may be sick with COVID-19 to stay home and get healthy so they do not put themselves at risk or come to work and infect others.”

 

In the brief, filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues support the State of Washington against a challenge by the Air Transport Association of America d/b/a Airlines for America to the state’s paid sick leave law that requires employers to allow workers to take sick leave without fear of discipline.

 

According to the brief, Washington’s paid sick leave law prohibits a practice used in the airline industry by which flight attendants and pilots who miss work, even due to illness, receive “points” that can lead to discipline or termination. The attorneys general write that Washington’s law advances important public health objectives by allowing flight crew who fall ill to fully recuperate before returning to work. This benefit is particularly important in the airline industry because, as recent experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate, commercial air travel can amplify the rapid spread of infectious disease. For example, during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, people working while sick infected seven million individuals across the globe and the virus spread rapidly due to air travel.

 

Attorney General Herring and his colleagues urge the appeals court to affirm a lower court decision that found Washington’s paid sick leave law to be legal, arguing that the law does not contribute significantly to flight delays or substantially burden the free flow of goods and services as Airlines for America argues in its lawsuit.

 

Joining Attorney General Herring in filing today’s brief are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

 

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