Fired medical employee obtains $37K medical leave settlement

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — U.S. Department of Labor officials announced today that a fired employee of a Walnut Creek medical center who was denied medical leave has obtained a $37,366 settlement from the company.

The Department of Labor’s San Francisco District director Susana Blanco said department investigators determined that Muir Orthopaedic Specialists violated the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act.

The law requires public agencies and large private employers to give workers who have been on the job for at least a year up to 12 weeks off if they have a serious health condition or need to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.

The time off can be unpaid, but the employer must allow the worker to return to the job and must continue group health insurance.

Assistant district director Michael Eastwood said the employee asked for four weeks off last June and had certification from her doctor, but was fired the next day.

Eastwood said the agency’s investigation determined that the employer failed to inform the worker of her rights under the law and failed to designate the leave as protected under the law.

The settlement was reached in February without a need for a lawsuit, Eastwood said. The financial compensation includes $18,683 in back wages and an equal, additional amount in damages.

Blanco said in a statement, “In this case, an employee was suddenly left without a job or a paycheck because her employer terminated her illegally.

“This employee suffered emotional and financial stress at a time when she could least afford it,” Blanco said.

The department’s San Francisco district encompasses the Bay Area.A representative of Muir Orthopedic Specialists was not immediately available for comment. The center provides orthopedic medical care, surgery and physical therapy.

The medical leave law applies to government agencies, public schools and private employers with 50 or more workers within 75 miles of the worksite of the employee seeking leave.

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