LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles World Airports – owner and operator of Los Angeles International and Van Nuys airports – has made sweeping changes to its employee medical leave request system to address failures that led to long delays, invalid disciplinary personnel actions and violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act found in a U.S. Department of Labor investigation.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that workers waited for months for requests to be approved, and were sometimes subjected to illegal disciplinary actions when they sought unpaid, job-protected leave to care for themselves or a family member in need. The FMLA requires covered employers to provide workers with notice of their eligibility for leave within five business days of the initial request.
Investigators found Los Angeles World Airports’ employee Family and Medical Leave requests went through five levels of administrative review before reaching human resources, typically one month later, with some requests pending for months. The employer also improperly relied on second opinions from an in-house physician, which led to workers not taking their needed and available leave.
The airports’ newly redesigned system includes a new web-based tool that provides workers updates and approvals within 24 hours, instead of months. The employer no longer routinely requires second opinions from health care providers, created a reference guide for leave specialists, scheduled joint training sessions with the Wage and Hour Division, and removed all adverse actions against employees that leave policies in violation of the FMLA caused.
“Especially during a global pandemic, workers should not have to choose between their jobs and their health,” said Wage and Hour Division Assistant District Director Francisco Ocampo, in Los Angeles. “The Family and Medical Leave Act allows for critically needed workplace flexibility precisely when employees need it the most. This investigation has helped to improve substantially the working conditions of more than 4,000 workers. We will continue to educate employers and enforce the law to ensure worker protections and to level the playing field for all employers.”
The division offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos and confidential calls to local Wage and Hour Division offices. Contact the Wage and Hour Division toll-free at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) for more information.