The US Department of Labor secures $200,000 for a worker wrongfully fired by a Georgia county public health department for taking legally allowed leave.

Cobb & Douglas Public Health Fails to Notify Worker of Family and Medical Leave Act Eligibility

The U.S. Department of Labor has recently recovered $200,000 for a former employee of Cobb & Douglas Public Health after the county agency violated the worker’s rights to protected leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The employee, who had experienced a two-night hospital visit and required subsequent care for a worsening condition, was illegally fired when they attempted to exercise their right to request and use FMLA-protected leave for their health condition.

Upon investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, it was found that Cobb & Douglas Public Health had failed to inform the worker of their potential eligibility for FMLA leave within five business days of learning about their leave. Additionally, the employer did not provide the employee with a written notice of their rights and responsibilities at the appropriate time, or within five business days of learning about their leave. Furthermore, the worker was not allowed to exercise their rights under FMLA and was instead terminated the day after requesting FMLA paperwork. The employer also failed to reinstate the worker to their previous position or an equivalent one, instead choosing to illegally terminate them.

According to Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven Salazar, “Employers cannot deprive an employee eligible for family and medical leave of their legal rights, forcing them to make the hard choice between keeping their jobs and caring for themselves or their families.” The FMLA allows workers to take reasonable unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, ensuring job security and health benefits during these periods.

In the fiscal year 2023, the Wage and Hour Division concluded 334 FMLA compliance actions with violations and recovered over $987,000 in back wages for 395 workers. To learn more about the FMLA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, including an FMLA Compliance Assistance Toolkit, individuals can contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). The division also offers assistance in over 200 languages for workers and employers who have questions or concerns.

It is important for employers to understand and comply with the FMLA to ensure that their employees’ rights are protected. The Wage and Hour Division is committed to enforcing these laws and ensuring that workers are treated fairly. If you believe you may be owed back wages collected by the division, you can use their search tool to learn more.  

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