Benefits & Compensation News

DOL backing up FMLA enforcement promise: Employers feel the pinch

Not too long ago, the DOL announced it would start ramping up FMLA enforcement, and that promise has already led to a number of costly settlements and court orders.

If you remember, Obama’s proposed budget for 2014 called for the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division to receive $243 million, an increase of about $14 million. And $3.4 million of that was specifically for increased enforcement of the FMLA.

Now it looks like the agency is putting that money to use.

Some recent examples of the DOL coming after firms for FMLA violations:

One worker forces company-wide changes

According to a DOL investigation, a T.G.I. Fridays restaurant in Louisiana violated the FMLA by failing to reinstate an employee who took leave to the same or equivalent position when he returned from leave.

The DOL said the worker also wasn’t allowed to return to work immediately after the leave, which resulted in a loss of three weeks of pay and that Fridays’ FMLA policy and worker rights notification practices violated the law.

Specifically, the Fridays leave policy didn’t include info on the FMLA’s military family leave provisions, information on the right to take FMLA-covered leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis, and it misstated the 12-month employment requirement for FMLA eligibility as being 12 continuous months.

T.G.I. Fridays agreed to pay $1,455 in back wages to the employee who took leave – and change its leave policy to be in compliance with the FMLA.

That meant a complete policy overhaul at 272 total locations.

Forced resignation claim leads to $50K settlement

Putnam County Board of Education found itself in some serious trouble when a DOL investigation uncovered it attempted to force a resignation and eventually terminated an employee who requested FMLA-protected leave.

Putnam was also accused of failing to provide the worker with any of the required FMLA notices and of not posting notices of employees’ FMLA rights in the workplace.

When all was said and done, Putnam was ordered to pay $50,000 in back wages to the former employee, and it agreed to take a number of DOL-mandated measures to prevent future FMLA violations.

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