MACON, Ga. – Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, Nichiha U.S.A. Inc. has paid a former employee $20,141 in back wages after unlawfully terminating him for exercising his rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The investigation, conducted by the Wage and Hour Division’s Atlanta District Office, found that a Nichiha U.S.A. employee at the company’s Macon plant was terminated for taking intermittent leave to care for his mother, who had undergone surgery for a serious health condition. The employee shared the responsibility for providing care with other members of his family. The company failed to recognize this situation as an FMLA-qualifying event and fired the employee for excessive unexcused absences.
“The Family and Medical Leave Act allows for workplace flexibility by providing eligible employees with the right to take a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period — without the risk of losing their jobs – to provide care for spouses, parents, children or other covered dependents due to serious health conditions. And employees do not lose their FMLA rights to provide care for covered family members just because they share the responsibility with other caregivers,” said Janet Campbell, the Wage and Hour Division’s district director in Atlanta. “The U.S. Department of Labor values families and, as demonstrated by the resolution of this case, we are committed to ensuring that workers receive all the protections they are entitled to under federal labor law.”
In addition to paying back wages, Nichiha agreed to maintain future compliance with the FMLA. The company also agreed to update its FMLA policies to include military family leave amendments required by Congress.
The Japanese company manufactures fiber cement products at its Macon plant, and its U.S. headquarters are located in Norcross.
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. In addition, the National Defense Authorization Act amended the FMLA to provide two types of military family leave for eligible employees. Information on the FMLA is available on the Wage and Hour Division’s website at www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/index.htm.
For more information on the FMLA or other federal labor laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, call the division’s toll-free helpline at (866) 4US-WAGE (487-9243), its Atlanta District Office at (404) 893-4600 or its Savannah Area Office in Georgia at (912) 652-4221. Information is also available online at www.dol.gov/whd.