The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has announced that T.G.I. Fridays, a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Carlson, has agreed to change its leave policy to be in compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The move affects employees at its 272 company-owned locations. The company has also agreed to correct violations of the FMLA found during an investigation of one of its restaurants in Shreveport, LA., and pay an employee back wages.
The agency’s investigation found that the company violated the FMLA by failing to reinstate the employee to the same or equivalent position, including pay, benefits and other terms of employment and that the worker was not allowed to return to work immediately following FMLA-covered leave. The delay in allowing the employee to return to work caused the employee to lose pay.
Additionally, the investigation found that the company’s FMLA policy and worker rights notification practices were not in keeping with the law. Specifically, the policy did not include information 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 misstated the 12-month employment requirement for FMLA eligibility as being 12 continuous months.
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period 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. Under certain circumstances, military family leave entitlements allow eligible employees up to 26 weeks of leave. Employers are prohibited from interfering with, restraining or denying the exercise of (or the attempt to exercise) any FMLA right. Employers also are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee or prospective employee for having exercised or attempted to exercise any FMLA right. For example, an employer may not use an employee’s request for or use of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary procedures.
This enforcement action should serve as a reminder to all employers covered by the FMLA to have policies and procedures, to make sure they are accurate and to keep them current.