Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Houston Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic required to pay more than $17,000 in back wages following US Labor Department investigation
HOUSTON -- Houston Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic LLP has been cited with multiple violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act following an investigation by the Houston District Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
The investigation found that the company violated the FMLA when an eligible employee returning to work, after taking FMLA leave, was not placed in the same full-time position held prior to using the job-protected leave. Instead, the employee was placed in a part-time position which resulted in fewer working hours and without the same benefits held before taking FMLA leave. Under the FMLA, an employee returning to work from FMLA leave is entitled to job restoration to the same or an equivalent position with the same pay, benefits and other employment terms and conditions. This violation resulted in $17,390 in back wages, medical expenses and unpaid monetary benefits due to the employee.
“No employee should have to worry about their job when facing a serious health condition,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “Coming back to work with the same seniority and benefits following an FMLA-related absence is not an option, it is the law. This employee’s reinstatement and subsequent collection of back wages should send a clear message to other employers that compliance with the FMLA is critical.”
The employer was charged with several additional FMLA violations, including failing to provide the employee with the required notice designating the leave as FMLA; failing to keep the proper records required by FMLA; and failing to have a current FMLA policy reflecting the most recent provisions of the law. The employer agreed to reinstate the employee to the previously held full-time position with the same pay rate and benefits; pay all the back wages due; ensure that all eligible employees taking FMLA leave are properly provided with the required notices; maintain the necessary records; update its written FMLA policy; and conduct FMLA training with its managers.
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 entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 workweeks 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 workweeks 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 the division’s Houston District Office at (713) 339-5500. Information also is available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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.