More than two decades ago, the Family and Medical Leave Act was established so workers like Luc-Uriel Emmanuel wouldn’t have to choose between caring for himself or a loved one and the job that he needs.
Luc, a 45-year-old husband and father, had worked for more than three years as a security guard for a company in Boston. Two of his family members had serious health conditions.
In late 2015, Luc requested not to work a Saturday shift that he had been covering in addition to his regular 40 hours of work per week in order to attend to his wife’s health. His supervisor initially approved his request for time off verbally, but later denied it. When Luc said he could not work that shift, he was written up for absenteeism and removed from the schedule.
Luc contacted the Boston office of the department’s Wage and Hour Division for help. An investigator substantiated his claim that he had not been informed of his FMLA rights or eligibility, and that the act should have protected him in this situation. When the investigator informed the company of her findings, management agreed to pay his lost wages and come into compliance.
“I think it’s very important to educate employees about their rights with regard to the FMLA,” Luc said of his experience. “I think about those employees who don't know that the department is there to help them.”
The Wage and Hour Division has resources about the FMLA to help workers understand their rights and employers understand their responsibilities. Most employers want to properly comply with the FMLA’s promise of leave without pay and guaranteed job protection. “The Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act” is a step-by-step guide designed to walk employers, managers, human resources specialists and others through the FMLA leave administration process. Download the PDF online or order free copies here.
For additional questions about the FMLA or other labor laws, call 1-866-4-US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243).
Editor’s note: The DOL Working for You series highlights the Labor Department’s programs in action. View other posts in the series here.
James Lally is a public affairs specialist for the department in Boston.