Publix paid $17,800 for firing a South Florida worker who took medical leave, feds say

DAVID J. NEAL/dneal@miamiherald.com

Publix paid $17,854 in back pay and medical expenses after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation into the firing of a Boynton Beach warehouse employee, the federal agency announced Thursday afternoon.

Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigators found that the time off taken by the worker to deal with a health condition was protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Additionally, investigators say Publix didn’t give the worker an FMLA leave eligibility notification letter, a rights and responsibilities notice, clearly lay out the employee’s obligations nor say what might happen if the employee didn’t handle those obligations.

Publix paid $12,727 in owed wages and $5,127 in medical expenses.

Publix hasn’t answered a Thursday afternoon request for comment.

“Employees should never have to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one and losing their jobs,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Daniel Cronin. “The Family and Medical Leave Act protects eligible workers from an employer’s interference, restraint, or retaliation when they take qualifying leave.”