Anaheim-based Discount Tire Centers must pay an employee $2,606 in back wages for denying him sick leave after his health care provider advised that he self-quarantine while awaiting a family member’s COVID-19 test results, federal investigators announced Wednesday.

The investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Discount Tire Centers failed to pay the employee for what qualified as paid sick leave, under the recently passed Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, covering the hours he spent at home after the company received documentation of his doctor’s instructions to self-quarantine.

“The employer denied the complainant’s request for paid leave under the EPSLA, mistakenly believing that the complainant had to submit proof of a positive coronavirus test to qualify for the paid leave,” according to a statement released by the Department of Labor.

Discount Tire Centers will pay the Rancho Santa Margarita-based employee’s full wages of $2,606 for two weeks of leave. The company also agreed to future compliance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which went into effect on April 1, according to the federal agency.

“This case serves as a strong signal that the U.S. Department of Labor is working to protect employee rights and educate employers during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Wage and Hour District Director Rodolfo Cortez.

“We encourage employers and employees to call us for assistance to improve their understanding of new labor standards under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and use our educational online tools to avoid violations like those found in this case,” he said.

The FFCRA gives businesses with fewer than 500 employees tax credits to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members.

The law enables employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while ensuring that employees are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.

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