Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Department of Labor sues Alaska energy company for violating Family and Medical Leave Act
Suit asserts 'rest and relaxation' period on rotational schedule cannot be counted as leave
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The U.S. Department of Labor has sued an Anchorage-based energy service company for violating the Family and Medical Leave Act. The lawsuit, filed Dec. 30 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, alleges that ASRC Energy Services Alaska, a subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corp., illegally terminated an employee using approved FMLA leave. The Labor Department seeks the employee's reinstatement as well as $60,000 in back wages.
The suit was filed by the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in San Francisco and resulted from an investigation by its Wage and Hour Division. Investigators determined that the employer incorrectly had counted weeks an employee was not scheduled to work as weeks of FMLA leave when it terminated the worker for exceeding the approved amount of leave. Employers operating in remote locations such as the North Slope commonly assign workers to rotational schedules, with periods of several weeks of continuous work followed by weeks of time off. The department asserts in the suit that the worker's job was protected because weeks that a rotational employee is not scheduled to work cannot be counted as leave.
"An important protection afforded by the FMLA is the right of an eligible employee 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 Donna Hart, director of the Wage and Hour Division's Seattle District Office. "This suit demonstrates the department's commitment to workplace flexibility by ensuring that employees receive all of the protections they are entitled to under federal labor laws, including job protection when they must take time from work for family and medical reasons."
Barrow-headquartered ASRC Energy Services Alaska is an oil and gas support services company that provides permitting, maintenance, construction, engineering and fabrication functions for the energy industry in Alaska and throughout the Unites States.
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave 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. In addition, the National Defense Authorization Act amended the FMLA to provide two types of military family leave for eligible employees. Information on the FMLA is available on the Wage and Hour Division's website at http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/index.htm.
For more information on the FMLA or other federal labor laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, call the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), its Seattle District Office at 206-398-8039 or its Anchorage Field Office at 907-271-2867. Information also is available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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