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Payroll Compliance – FMLA Violation Results in $43,000 Penalty
From:
The Illuminare Group, Inc. The Illuminare Group, Inc.
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Nashville , TN
Sunday, July 21, 2013

 
The Wage and Hour Division recently assessed an Alaska company $43,000 in back wage penalty for terminating an employee who had exceeded their 12 week FMLA allowance wrongly. The company reached agreement with the WHD in a consent judgment in federal court.

The company employed individuals to go to remote work sites to work for several weeks followed by several weeks of off duty when the employee would return home. The employee had a serious medical condition that qualified under the FMLA guidelines. The company allowed for 12 weeks of FLMA then terminated the employee.
The WHD found the company in violation of the FMLA regulations because they counted the weeks the employee was not scheduled to work against the 12 mandated weeks, result – $43,000 in back wages to the employee.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with more than 50 employees within a 75 mile radius to offer 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave to employees for qualifying medical events. In summary here are the qualifying events:
  1. Birth or adoption of child
  2. Caring for child, spouse, or parent with serious medical condition
  3. Employee?s personal serious health condition
  4. Caring for employees spouse, son, daughter, or parent for qualifying exigency from ?military duty?
The FMLA defines serious health condition as any illness, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility or continuing treatment by a health care provider.  In 1997 the DOL stated that a medical condition lasting three or more consecutive days and requiring the continuous treatment of medical provider qualifies under the FLMA. A relevant court case in which an employee was fired for missing several weeks of work due to a routine stomach disorder was found to be a violation of the FMLA. The court ruled that while the disorder was not severe it did require continuous medical treatment. (Mandated Benefits Compliance Guide 2013, Wolters Kluwer)
The FLMA regulations prevent an employer from ?counting? days missed toward the 12 week total if the worker is not scheduled to work those days or weeks. If a facility shuts down for maintenance or closes for defined periods of time at the employers choice, then those days closed do not count toward the 12 weeks.
If you have questions regarding FMLA or other payroll issues contact Gary@IlluminareGroupInc.com or call 615-542-1919.
IRS CIRCULAR 230 ? DISCLOSURE NOTICE: IRS Circular 230 regulates written communications about federal tax matters between tax advisors and their clients. To the extent the preceding correspondence and/or any attachment is a written tax advice communication, it is not a full ?covered opinion?. Accordingly, this advice is not intended and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by the IRS regarding the transaction or matters discussed herein.

 
President / Enrolled Agent
The Illuminare Group, Inc.
Murfreesboro, TN
615-542-1919