Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Baton Rouge Community College has agreed to pay a former employee $34,526 in back wages and benefits after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the college violated the Family and Medical Leave Act when it considered the employee’s absence to care for a family member, as well as a request for leave for a personal serious health condition, as negative employment factors and consequently terminated the employee.
“The FMLA allows for workplace flexibility by giving an eligible employee the right to take a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during any 12-month period to address a serious health condition that makes him or her unable to perform the essential functions of the job,” said Cynthia Watson, the division’s regional administrator for the Southwest. “Leave may be taken all at one time or on an intermittent basis, as the condition requires.”
The investigation, which was conducted by the division’s New Orleans District Office, found that the college terminated the employee a day before the employee was scheduled to meet with a physician to obtain the FMLA health condition certification that the college had requested. As a result of the termination, the employee lost wages and retirement benefits payments, and incurred significantly higher health insurance and other health care costs.
Baton Rouge Community College has agreed to comply with the requirements of the FMLA in the future and to restore to the employee the wages and benefits that would have been earned if the termination had not occurred. Payment of back wages and benefits is ongoing.
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 the FMLA, an employer is prohibited from interfering with, restraining or denying the exercise of (or the attempt to exercise) any FMLA right. Employers also are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee or prospective employee for having exercised or attempted to exercise any FMLA right. Specifically, an employer may not use an employee’s request for or use of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary procedures.
For more information about worker protections under the FMLA and other federal labor laws that are enforced by the division, call its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its New Orleans office at 504-589-6171. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.