BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana will reinstate and pay about $36,600 in back wages to a woman fired after missing work because of a serious health problem, the U.S. Labor Department said Wednesday.

The Department of Children and Family Services illegally kept the woman from returning to work after an earlier medical absence, cutting her hours below the number required to get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, according to a news release.

"Workers should not have to fear loss of their jobs while dealing with serious medical problems," said Cynthia Watson, southwest regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division. "The Labor Department is committed to protecting the right of employees eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act to take a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period."

The division's New Orleans district office investigated the case.

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