News Release

Federal investigation recovers $77K in back wages for state employee wrongly denied protected medical leave, illegally terminated

Georgia Department of Public Health reinstates worker; restores benefits, earned leave

ATLANTA – Following a federal investigation, the Georgia Department of Public Health has reinstated an employee in Atlanta wrongly disciplined and terminated for absences protected under federal law and paid them $77,314 in back wages to resolve violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigation determined the state’s Department of Public Health wrongly denied the employee’s request for leave for an FMLA-qualified condition. The denial of FMLA benefits by the employer resulted in wrongful discipline and subsequent termination of the worker’s employment which prompted the investigation.

In addition to recovering the worker’s back wages, the division ensured the employer reinstated them to an equivalent position, including equivalent salary, benefits, retirement plan and accrued leave they would have earned had the employer not wrongly terminated them. 

“The Family and Medical Leave Act exists to prevent workers from being forced to make the difficult choice between keeping their jobs and caring for their themselves and their families,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven Salazar in Atlanta. “When employers deny workers their rights to the FMLA and other protections, they may find it more difficult to retain valued employees and recruit others to operate their businesses successfully.”

“Employers unsure of their legal obligations under FMLA or other laws governing their pay practices should contact the Wage and Hour Division,” Salazar added.

The Georgia Department of Public Health leads the state’s efforts to prevent disease, injury and disability, promotes health and well-being, and prepares for and responds to disasters from a health perspective. It collaborates with 159 county health departments and 18 public health districts.

Learn more about the FMLA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, including an FMLA Compliance Assistance Toolkit, or contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).

Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions, regardless of immigration status, and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Learn more about Wage and Hour Division, includingsearch tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.

Read this news release En Español.

Wage and Hour Division
May 24, 2022
Release Number
Media Contact: Eric R. Lucero
Phone Number
Media Contact: Erika Ruthman
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