On July 27, 2021, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signed Section 626B of the City of Pittsburgh Code—also known as the Temporary COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. Under the Ordinance, employers with over 50 employees must provide up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave for full-time employees, and a prorated amount of leave for part-time employees, to use for COVID-19 related reasons. While these measures are intended to help keep the workforce and workplace safe and healthy, confusion over employers’ responsibility remains and may be fueling COVID-19-related disability, leave and accommodation litigation.
While the first iteration of the Temporary COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, Section 626A, was in effect from December 8, 2020 to June 17, 2021, Section 626B is nearly identical and now in effect until at least July 27, 2022. Minor differences in the new iteration of the Ordinance include allowing leave for employees or family members of employees to obtain a vaccine or booster vaccine dose and expanding the definition of COVID-19 to include any variant forms of the virus. The new iteration of the Ordinance maintains the spirit of the original—urging that paid sick leave be granted where appropriate for COVID-19 related reasons as employers and employees continue to navigate the current public health crisis.
Employers should be mindful of the lack of clarity on whether leave provided by the Ordinance offsets time an employee has already used throughout the year for COVID-19 related reasons or if the leave provided by the Ordinance is in addition to it. No guidance has been issued by the Mayor’s Office to clarify, but Employers should err on the side of caution in reviewing and granting leave under the Ordinance until further guidance is provided.
Due to breakthrough COVID-19 cases in fully vaccinated individuals, emerging variants of the virus causing repeat infections, and increasing number of employees returning to in-person workspaces, we anticipate the recent uptick in litigation filed across the country related to denial of COVID-19 leave and accommodations will continue. According to, Jackson Lewis’ COVID-19 Employment LitWatch, from April 1, 2021, to August 3, 2021, nearly 48% of all COVID-19-employment-related lawsuits filed nationwide (402 of 842 lawsuits) should be categorized as “Disability, Leave & Accommodation,” which is a 10% increase from March 12, 2020, to March 31, 2021 (747 of 1962 lawsuits, or approximately 38%). In Pennsylvania, however, approximately 79% of all COVID-19-employment-related lawsuits (27 of 34 lawsuits) should be categorized as “Disability, Leave & Accommodation,” compared to 52% (35 of 67 lawsuits) from March 12, 2020, to March 31, 2021.
Jackson Lewis attorneys will continue to monitor and report any further developments. If you need guidance navigating the Temporary COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, or any other employment law issue, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney. Our team stands ready to help.