Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
BRADENTON, Fla. -- A Big Lots Stores Inc. store in Bradenton paid a former employee $8,787 following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that found the company violated the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Columbus, Ohio-based company terminated the worker’s employment for absences from work that should have been protected as FMLA leave because the employee was taking the time off to care for a seriously ill child.
“This outcome demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring that employees are not retaliated against or prevented from exercising their FMLA rights,” said James Schmidt, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Tampa District Office. “The FMLA became law 20 years ago, giving any employee covered by this act the ability to balance their work life with their own and their family’s health needs without risking their job.”
The investigation, conducted by the division’s Tampa District Office, found that Big Lots failed to properly provide the employee with the required FMLA eligibility and designation notices. The firm then disciplined the employee by writing her up for tardiness and absences. It ultimately fired her for violating the company’s attendance policy, although the time off met the qualifying criteria for the FMLA.
Big Lots agreed to maintain future compliance with the FMLA by changing its internal policy to screen leave appropriately that could be eligible under the FMLA.
The FMLA provides eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave due to their own or a family member’s serious health condition and other specified family and medical reasons, 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.
Accessible and searchable information on enforcement activities by the department is available at http://ogesdw.dol.gov/views/search.
For more information about the FMLA or other federal labor laws, call the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Tampa District Office at 813-288-1242. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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