Los Angeles County to Give Grocery Store Workers Hazard Pay

In a four-to-one vote last week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to give grocery store workers in the most populous county in the country a $5 per hour increase as a form of “hero pay” during the coronavirus pandemic. This temporary increase goes into effect on February 26 for 120 days and will benefit thousands of grocery store workers. The hero pay increase in Los Angeles County is the latest in a number of temporary salary increases for essential workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it could mean that you are entitled to higher wages, too. To learn more about this and to receive legal assistance with any other employment-related claim, talk to an experienced employment law attorney in your area today.

Hero Pay Proposals

The Los Angeles hero pay increase follows a number of other essential worker pay bumps across California and the United States. The purpose of hero pay is to compensate essential workers, like grocery store employees, for the increased risk they face during the coronavirus pandemic. Over 170 grocery store employees have died as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the last year, with thousands more testing positive for the virus. These employees have also reported higher levels of stress and strain during the pandemic due to long hours and increased responsibilities with a higher demand for grocery store items when indoor dining is restricted or closed.

Opposition to Pay Increases

There has been significant opposition to this, and other, hero pay increases across California. Kroger infamously closed two stores in southern California when the Long Beach mayor signed a temporary $4 per hour increase for grocery store workers in his city. The same thing occurred in Seattle, where Kroger closed two more of its stores after the city passed a $4 per hour temporary pay increase as hero pay for its city’s grocery store employees. Businesses argue that instead of pay increases, the government should be prioritizing grocery stores employees and other essential workers for vaccinations to protect them from contracting the virus. The California Grocers Association filed a lawsuit against the Long Beach hero pay increase and may file suit against Los Angeles County, as well.

Effects on California Essential Workers

The effect on essential workers in Los Angeles County working in grocery stores will be immediate, with the hero pay increase going into effect at the end of the week; however, this pay increase could also indicate hazard or hero pay for other essential workers in California, as well. One County Board Supervisor noted the lack of fairness in paying grocery store employees but not other types of essential workers, which could mean that other hero pay initiatives could be put forward in the coming months.

Talk to an Employment Lawyer

Do you have questions about the hero pay increase or other employment law concerns? Talk to an experienced employment law attorney in your area today to learn more.