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News Release

MARTA repeatedly violated federal leave protections affecting more than 70 workers, US Labor Department finds

Transit agency committed Family and Medical Leave Act violations

ATLANTA — For the second time, federal investigators have found the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority violated employees' rights to take unpaid, job-protected leave for a qualifying medical or family issue.

A follow-up investigation to one conducted in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found that the city's mass transit system, known as MARTA, violated its workers' rights to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act — a law since 1993.

The FMLA allows U.S. workers to juggle the demands of their jobs, while attending to personal medical and family issues. It can be used to take time off to attend to a serious health condition, or for other qualifying purposes, such as bonding with a newborn or to care for a family member wounded during military service. The FMLA provides a critical safety net for working families.

Following FMLA violations found in 2013 and subsequent compliance assistance, the Wage and Hour Division conducted a second investigation at MARTA earlier this year and found repeated FMLA violations affecting dozens of employees. Specifically, MARTA did the following:

  • Suspended an employee who should have been offered FMLA leave.
  • Failed to give timely notice to more than 70 workers about their FMLA rights and responsibilities.
  • Neglected to designate leave taken by eligible employees as qualifying for FMLA.
  • Marked workers' attendance records unfavorably for FMLA-related absences or lateness.
  • Placed workers at risk unnecessarily for suspension, termination and other adverse employment actions.

As a result of the most recent investigation, MARTA has agreed to pay the unlawfully suspended worker $4,000 in lost wages and correct his personnel record. The worker qualified for FMLA leave for his serious health condition and notified the employer of the qualifying condition. However, the employer suspended the worker without pay for three-and-a-half weeks.

"When an employee must be away from work for their serious health condition, or to care for a loved one, there are no second chances to get it right," said Wayne Kotowski, Southeast regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division. "For more than 20 years, the FMLA has been a vital safeguard for working families. It ensures that no one should choose between the job they need and the family they love."

MARTA has also agreed to designate FMLA retroactively, where appropriate, for more than 70 employees and to correct its attendance and personnel records.

Additionally, MARTA has signed an enhanced compliance agreement with the division and has agreed to promote a policy for FMLA compliance. MARTA will provide annual training for employees and semiannual training for managers on FMLA notice and eligibility requirements and read FMLA notices to employees in their primary language.

In 2013, the Wage and Hour Division investigated MARTA and found that it failed to comply with the FMLA, which affected three workers, two of whom were terminated and another suspended. As a result of that investigation, the company offered to reinstate the fired workers and paid all three more than $32,000 in lost wages.

"Our effort shows the department's strong commitment to helping families achieve a healthy work-life balance, and our intention to use all enforcement tools to make sure employers comply with the FMLA and uphold worker protections," added Kotowski.

MARTA provides public rail and bus transportation services in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The transit system has approximately 4,500 full-time employees who serve more than 75,000 commuters daily.

An employer is prohibited from interfering with, restraining or denying the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any FMLA right. Prohibited conduct includes failing to notify an employee of his rights under the FMLA when aware that the employee is taking FMLA-qualifying leave. Information on the FMLA is available on the Wage and Hour Division's website at

Wage and Hour Division
November 17, 2015
Release Number
Media Contact: Lindsay Williams
Phone Number
Media Contact: Michael D'Aquino