CA fines El Super grocery stores $447K for failing to provide paid COVID sick leave

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The meat counter at the El Super store in Highland Park is seen in this undated file photo. (Jack Flemming / Los Angeles Times)

The meat counter at the El Super store in Highland Park is seen in this undated file photo. (Jack Flemming / Los Angeles Times)

California regulators have cited and fined three El Super grocery stores for failing to provide or delaying paid sick leave to 95 employees affected by COVID-19, officials said Tuesday.

Some of the employees were forced to work while sick, others were told to apply for unemployment while quarantining or in isolation, and others waited months to be paid, according to a statement from the state Labor Commissioner’s Office.

Citations including fines totaling more than $447,000 were issued to El Super stores in Los Angeles, Lynwood and Victorville. The parent company, Delaware’s Bodega Latina Corporation, was also cited.

“Supplemental paid sick leave is intended to protect workers from being forced to choose between their health and providing for their families,” said Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower. “These violations expose workers, their families and El Super’s customers to unnecessary health risks.”

El Super said in a statement that it would appeal and that the company is committed to complying with labor laws.

“We are disappointed that the Labor Commissioner acted without completing their investigation. The citation is without merit and we will vigorously defend our record of compliance,” the statement said.

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