Protecting the Rights of Working Parents

Daryl Crawford with his daughter
Daryl Crawford with his daughter

For 30 years, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has given working parents peace of mind as they’ve bonded with their newborn children. The law enables these workers to be with their babies in those precious first weeks after birth or adoption and then return to their workplaces without fear of a pay cut or retaliation.

Unfortunately, there are employers who don’t always respect a worker’s right to take family and medical leave. And when they don’t, the Wage and Hour Division takes action.

Daryl Crawford was a dock supervisor for U.S. Logistics Solutions Inc. in Covington, Georgia. When he exercised his right to take parental leave for the birth of his daughter, the company fired him.

"I knew what my employer did to me after 10 years of working for them was wrong. I was devastated after I was fired. I was at home with my newborn baby girl and, suddenly, I was afraid," said Crawford.

Fearful and uncertain about how to support his family, Daryl called us to report the violation of his FMLA rights.

"It was very easy to file a complaint. I thought I’d be met with resistance, but the Wage and Hour Division’s representative made me feel very comfortable," Crawford said. "Having someone believe my word and take action was great."

Soon after taking Crawford’s complaint, we got to work on his case. Our investigation substantiated that U.S. Logistics Solutions Inc. had violated the FMLA by denying Crawford’s request to take parental leave and then firing him while he was bonding with his daughter. As a result, we recovered over $67,000 for Crawford, including missed earnings after he was fired, unpaid earned time off and one year’s salary.

"I had depleted my savings while I was out of work. I had to move my family to a new location and the back wages I received really helped us. The money allowed me to keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table," Crawford said. "While the outcome of the investigation was great for me financially, the fact that the Wage and Hour Division’s representatives took the time to listen to my story and believe me was even more important. I was confident that they’d protect my rights. My wife and I will never forget how they helped us."

After going through the investigation process, Crawford is now an advocate for the FMLA and the agency that enforces it.

"I’ve shared my experience with all my friends and family to educate them about the Wage and Hour Division,’ said Crawford. ‘People need to know about this agency and how it helps workers get the wages they’re owed."

We couldn’t agree more. If you or your family member is denied their FMLA rights, please call us toll-free at 1-866-487-9243. We answer calls confidentially and in more than 200 languages.

Steven Salazar is the district director at the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division office in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow the division on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @WHD_DOL.