Hamai responds to Villanueva’s request for retroactive pay for employees

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva

Los Angeles County CEO Sachi Hamai issued a statement Wednesday calling comments made by Sheriff Alex Villanueva “inaccurate,” following the Board of Supervisors’ move to remove him as the chief of emergency operations Tuesday. 

“It’s unfortunate that the sheriff continues to bring issues to the media with the sole purpose of picking a political fight, rather than joining the county family in our urgent shared mission, which is the COVID-19 crisis,” she said Wednesday. 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has told 209 employees to self-quarantine after becoming exposed to the novel coronavirus, but issues regarding benefits for the employees brought forth more tension between Villanueva and county officials. 

Hamai’s statement follows a letter Villanueva wrote to county Supervisor Kathryn Barger on Wednesday, requesting retroactive pay for the employees who have been affected by the virus prior to Wednesday, the day the Families First Coronavirus Response Act — a law that provides emergency paid leave — took effect and will remain active through Dec. 31 but is not retroactive. 

“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.” 

Hamai said Villanueva “is responsible for his own decisions if he ordered employees to be placed on home leave. As a department head, he should be well aware that employees he orders to stay at home should be placed on paid administrative leave.”

She added that the guidelines for new federal benefits for employees affected by the COVID-19 outbreak “are set by the federal government, not by the county.” 

Their comments come a day after the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to remove Villanueva as chief of emergency operations on Tuesday, and instead place Hamai in charge of those operations. 

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