Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
KEITHVILLE, La. -- The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections in Keithville has agreed to pay $37,409 in back wages and retirement contributions to a former employee following an investigation by officials from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which found violations of provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
“Workers should not have to fear losing their job while dealing with serious medical problems,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “The Labor Department is committed to protecting workplace flexibility, including those who are eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act.”
The investigation, conducted by officials from the Wage and Hour Division’s New Orleans District Office, found that an employee was terminated because the employer followed a civil-service rule that allows an employee to be fired if they have less than eight hours of sick leave and are unable to perform their duties. Investigators found that the same day the Department of Public Safety and Corrections prepared a termination notice, a human-resources officer confirmed the employee’s eligibility under the FMLA. Even though the employee complied with the specified provisions associated with the leave and was prepared to return to work, the employee was terminated.
In addition to paying back wages and making a lump-sum contribution to the employee’s retirement account, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, which employs more than 6,000 employees throughout Louisiana, has agreed to comply with the requirements of the FMLA and will ensure that human-resources employees receive FMLA training with an emphasis on the legality of terminating employees, regardless of leave balance.
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.
The FMLA provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave due to their own or a family member’s serious health condition 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.
For more information about worker protections under the FMLA and other federal labor laws enforced by the division, call the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the agency’s New Orleans District Office at 504-589-6171. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla.
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