Mercedes-Benz fined $439K after firing 2 production workers for taking protected leave

March 11, 2024
The DOL was able to recover $438,625 in back wages, unpaid bonuses, equitable remedy and liquidated damages for the affected employees. 

An investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has discovered that Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. illegally fired two production workers. According to the agency, the employees had requested to use FMLA-protected leave because of personal and familial health conditions. The manufacturing workers were reprimanded and denied monthly attendance bonuses because of absences. Despite the fact that the leaves were protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act, both employes were terminated under the company’s point system.

The investigation also uncovered that Mercedes-Benz failed to record and maintain the amount of FMLA leave taken, did not provide notice of FMLA rights and responsibilities, and failed to designate leave as FMLA-qualifying when appropriate. Because of the investigation, the DOL was able to recover $438,625 in back wages, unpaid bonuses, equitable remedy and liquidated damages for the affected employees. 

In a recent quote, Wage and Hour Division District Director Kenneth Stripling said, “Employers cannot deprive eligible workers of their legal right to family and medical leave and force them to make the hard choice between keeping their jobs and caring for themselves or their families. Federal law allows for critically needed workplace flexibilities precisely when employees need them the most. The U.S. Department of Labor will defend workers’ rights and pursue all available remedies when those rights are violated.” 

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