County Supes to vote on ratifying letter to Villanueva on employees’ pay status

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday whether to ratify its letter to Sheriff Alex Villanueva concerning the pay status of 200 employees ordered to quarantine in March. 

Signed by all five county supervisors, including board Chair Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District covers the Santa Clarita Valley, the letter says deputies will receive pay for missing work due to being affected by COVID-19, but scolds the sheriff for “needlessly stirring public concerns with absolutely no basis in fact.” 

“Your unfortunate and erroneous comments have been sowing confusion and controversy by raising doubts about pay for deputies you chose to put on leave last month,” the April 3 letter reads. “Of course, these deputies will be paid, as you are well aware. In fact, as a department head, you have the duty and responsibility to make sure this happens.” 

The supervisors’ letter comes as a response just two days after Villanueva’s request for retroactive pay for the employees affected by the virus prior to April 1 and complete compensation thereafter. His letter came the day a new law took effect (Families First Coronavirus Response Act), focused on providing emergency paid leave. The act will remain active through Dec. 31, but is not retroactive. 

In a media interview, Villanueva said deputies in quarantine throughout March would not receive pay, “which resulted in numerous threats being made against the (county) CEO (Sachi Hamai),” reads the county agenda report. 

“The least we can do is fully compensate these men and women for their daily sacrifices by covering their COVID-19-related absence from work prior to April 1, 2020, as paid administrative leave, thereby preventing these employees from having to use their own sick time,” Villanueva said in the April 1 letter addressed to Barger. 

On April 2, Hamai said that the federal guidelines of the law were clear: “These benefits cannot be awarded retroactively. Modifying the federal rules on these benefits is not within the power of the chief executive officer or the Board of Supervisors.” 

The board is expected to vote Tuesday during its regular board meeting, which will be live-streamed due to safety guidelines amid the pandemic, starting at 9:30 a.m. 

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