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Press Releases

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 10-1790-CHI


Jan. 11, 2011


Scott Allen - Rhonda Burke


(312) 353-6976 - (312) 353-6976

Welch Foods Inc. of Lawton, Mich., agrees to pay employee more than $14,000 in back wages after violating Family and Medical Leave Act

LAWTON, Mich. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has settled a Family and Medical Leave Act claim against Welch Foods Inc. for the unlawful termination of an employee after she requested medical leave for a serious health condition. The company will pay the employee $14,110 in back wages, has agreed to future compliance with the FMLA and will fully notify its employees of their rights and responsibilities under the act.

“When employees are faced with the stress of a serious health condition, they shouldn’t also be confronted with the stress of losing their jobs and health insurance,” said Mary O’Rourke, director of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division in Grand Rapids, Mich. “The Labor Department takes seriously its responsibility to enforce the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides workers much needed protection as they balance the demands of work and family.”

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees who have serious health conditions with the right to take up to 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period without the risk of losing their jobs and employer-provided health insurance benefits. In this case, an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Welch Foods Inc. violated the FMLA when it terminated the employee after she requested to work a reduced schedule because of her medical condition. Investigators also found that the company did not provide the employee with required information about her rights and responsibilities under the law. Nor did they allow her sufficient time to submit additional medical certification supporting her need for a schedule adjustment.

The FMLA also entitles an eligible employee to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following: the birth of a child; the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care; to care for a spouse, child or parent due to a serious health condition; a serious health condition that prevents the employee from performing the functions of his or her position; or certain qualifying reasons arising from the fact that the employee’s spouse, child or parent is a covered military member on covered active duty. The FMLA entitles eligible employees to take up to 26 workweeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious illness or injury who is the spouse, child, parent or next of kin of the employee.

For more information about worker protections in the Family and Medical Leave Act and other federal labor standards laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the agency’s office in Grand Rapids at 616-456-2004. Information is also available on the Internet at


U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at 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