News Release

US Department of Labor finds Arkansas waste management company illegally fired worker on federally protected medical leave

Investigation recovers $36K in back wages for worker terminated as Christmas approached

LITTLE ROCK, AR – A Little Rock waste management company that terminated an employee who used qualified medical leave to address a serious health issue – just days before Christmas 2019 – was ordered to pay the worker $36,007 in back wages as the result of a federal investigation.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that BFI Waste Management Systems – doing business as Allied Waste Services of Little Rock and Republic Services – violated the Family and Medical Leave Act when it fired a worker illegally despite notification of the need for leave to the supervisor and approval of the leave by the company’s third-party FMLA administrator. Investigators determined the worker was recorded as absent on the first day of the leave, by the employer, and then terminated. The company also failed to rehire the worker after learning that the FMLA had been approved.

The division’s investigation led to the recovery of the back wages, which included pay the employee would have earned while unemployed plus a 3 percent company-matched 401(k) contribution.

“The Family and Medical Leave Act protects employees and provides some peace of mind as they face life’s challenges,” said Wage and Hour District Director Hanz Grünauer in Little Rock, Arkansas. “In this case, the employer chose to fire the worker illegally and the U.S. Department of Labor stepped in to hold the company accountable. This should serve as a warning to other employers that we will enforce the law and ensure workers’ rights are protected.”

Headquartered in Phoenix, BFI Waste Management Systems is a subsidiary of Republic Services, one of the nation’s largest waste management companies with 35,000 employees in 41 states.  

The department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos and confidential calls to local Wage and Hour Division offices.

For more information about the FMLA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division and use its search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.

Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.

Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
September 20, 2021
Release Number
21-1543-DAL
Contact: Juan Rodriguez
Contact: Chauntra Rideaux
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