Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
WICHITA, Kan. -- Hawker Beechcraft Inc. signed a compliance agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor, as a result of an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, which found the Wichita company interfered with employees’ rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
A 20-year employee, who was terminated in violation of the FMLA, will be reinstated and receive a total of $45,000 in back wages and 15 months of accrued vacation and sick leave hours. The company offered to write a letter of explanation to the employee’s creditors, who had threatened foreclosure on his home. Two other employees, who were also wrongfully terminated, will receive a total of $3,800 in back wages.
“Our investigation revealed that Hawker Beechcraft’s policies discouraged workers from applying for FMLA leave because employees feared reprisals, violation of privacy and, ultimately, loss of employment. Employees already in distress over family or medical situations should not have to choose between their health care and their job” said Patricia Preston, the division’s district director in Kansas City, Mo. “The department is committed to protecting workers’ rights under the FMLA and to educating both employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities under this law.”
The company has agreed to provide FMLA information to its 6,000 member workforce, to provide proper notification of eligibility, rights and responsibilities to employees within the time frames required by the FMLA, to revise its administrative procedures for requesting FMLA leave and to provide additional FMLA training to its human resources staff.
The investigation found that Hawker Beechcraft required employees to submit complete medical records to the company physician prior to scheduling an appointment for a second opinion. The company allegedly terminated the employment of those employees who failed to provide these private medical records in a timely manner, a practice which discouraged employees from applying for leave under the FMLA. Under the FMLA, an employer only has the right to request medical certification containing sufficient medical facts to establish that a serious health condition exists. The company also failed to provide employees notification of their eligibility, rights and responsibilities under the FMLA, as required.
Since 1993, the FMLA has been a major component in the department’s effort to promote work-family balance, providing workplace protections for employees with a serious health condition, or for those who are 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.
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons, with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Under certain circumstances, military family leave entitlements under the FMLA allow eligible employees up to 26 weeks of leave. For more information about the FMLA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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