Cleaning Co. Settles Worker's Virus Leave Suit

By Amanda Ottaway
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Law360 (December 9, 2020, 5:43 PM EST) -- A former employee of a cleaning company has told a Florida federal court she reached a deal to end her lawsuit alleging the business fired her after she asked for paid time off because the COVID-19 pandemic shut down her children's school.

Deborah Kofler filed a notice Tuesday saying that she and Sayde Steeves Cleaning Service Inc. had settled a suit she lodged in June, which alleged retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

"Plaintiff, Deborah Kofler, by and through undersigned counsel, hereby notifies the court that the above-styled action against defendant, Sayde Steeves Cleaning Service Inc., has been settled," her filing said.

No settlement details were immediately available.

Kofler, who worked as a commercial and residential cleaner, got fired in April after asking for time off under the FFCRA, according to her lawsuit. In August, Sayde Steeves moved to dismiss the case, claiming Kofler had resigned before requesting leave. The company also said it only had two employees, including Kofler, and that granting her leave would have crippled its operation.

Though the FFCRA, signed into law in March, applies to all private employers with fewer than 500 employees, there are possible exceptions for situations of child care related to school closures — a company with fewer than 50 employees might be exempt if its business would be harmed by the worker's absence.

The court rejected the dismissal bid later in August, however, pointing to the brief one-week gap between her request and termination.

The judge also noted in that Aug. 25 ruling that the FFCRA carveout is "not a blanket exemption that automatically applies to all small employers" and that it wasn't clear whether Sayde Steeves met the requirements for the carveout.

Counsel for the cleaning company declined to comment Wednesday, while counsel for the plaintiff and representatives for the cleaning company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kofler is represented by Christopher Saba of Wenzel Fenton Cabassa PA.

Sayde Steeves is represented by Michael Edison of Edison Edison & Brandt PLLC.

The case is Kofler v. Sayde Steeves Cleaning Service Inc., case number 8:20-cv-01460, in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

--Editing by Abbie Sarfo.

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Attached Documents

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Case Information

Case Title

Kofler v. Sayde Steeves Cleaning Service, Inc.

Case Number



Florida Middle

Nature of Suit

Labor: Fair Standards


Virginia M. Hernandez Cov

Date Filed

June 26, 2020

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