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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [10/18/2012]
Contact Name: Michael D’Aquino
Phone Number: (404) 562-2076
Release Number: 12-1870-ATL (361)

Marengo County Detention Center in Linden, Ala., pays 29 workers $104,000 in back wages following US Department of Labor investigation

LINDEN, Ala. — The Marengo County Detention Center in Linden has paid 29 current and former employees $103,987 in back wages following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime provisions.

The department’s investigation determined that one employee has been unlawfully terminated while on approved medical leave, subject to FMLA protections.  The employer claimed that the employee had failed to submit required documentation but never provided the employee written notification of an obligation to do so as required by the FMLA.  The employer paid the employee $11,726 in lost wages.

The investigation further determined that the employer failed to pay proper overtime to 28 correctional officers and deputies. The FLSA contains an exemption that allows police departments to establish a work period of up to 28 days, rather than the usual seven-day workweek, in which overtime need be paid only after a specified number of hours in each work period. Under that exemption, a 14-day work period requires overtime pay at time and one-half employees’ regular rates for hours worked beyond 86. In this case, employees worked 96 hours per 14-day work period but were not paid overtime. The employer has paid the affected employees$92,261 in back wages.

“Employers, including public employers, are legally obligated to pay workers proper wages for all hours worked and ensure that they can take appropriate leave when a medical emergency arises,” said Kenneth Stripling, director of the division’s Gulf Coast District Office. “The message is clear: Hardworking employees who keep our communities safe deserve every dime they earn.”

The employer agreed to full future compliance with the FLSA and FMLA, and to correct all issues identified by this investigation.

Since 1993, the FMLA has been a major component in the department’s effort to promote work-family balance, providing workplace protections for those living with a serious health condition, or caring for a covered family member with a serious health condition. The FMLA helps to ease the burden that can come with needing time away from work when faced with such an illness by providing eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave with continuation of health care coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Leave may be taken all at one time, or may be taken from time to time as the medical condition requires. An employer is prohibited from interfering with, restraining or denying the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any FMLA right. Prohibited conduct includes refusing to authorize FMLA leave for an eligible employee.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week.  Fire, in addition to police, departments may establish a work period ranging from seven to 28 days in which overtime need be paid only after a specified number of hours in each work period. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.

The division’s Gulf Coast office can be reached at205-536-8570. Information on the FLSA and other wage laws is available by calling the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) and by visiting http://www.dol.gov/whd.