The FMLA regulations state that “Employees cannot waive … their rights under the FMLA.” The Fifth Circuit has ruled that an employee can release the right to sue for damages under the FMLA as part of an otherwise enforceable general release.
A model employee for four years started sleeping on the job. When called after leaving early, he mumbled odd phrases to his boss and his sister said he was very sick. A jury could reasonably find that his unusual behavior was due to a medical condition that triggered FMLA rights.
On the same day, the Eighth Circuit held that Congress clearly intended States to be covered by Title VII and the Eleventh Circuit found that sovereign immunity protects States from FMLA claims. Both Courts looked to legislative intent to determine if sovereign immunity applied.
A manager had a long history of medical leaves. He missed an important meeting because of a sinus infection and a toothache. His firing did not violate the FMLA because he did not have a serious medical condition.
In January a hospital employee notified her employer that she was pregnant and would be taking a leave in July – more than 12 months after her hire. She was fired two weeks after requesting a leave. “An employee is not barred from proceeding with a retaliation claim under the FMLA if he or she has been employed for less than twelve months but requests leave to begin more than one year after employment commenced.”
An employee sought to extend a 30 week leave by 30 days. Her employer said no. The employer sued alleging the 30 weeks leave was not designated as an FMLA leave. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the employer.
A nurse informed her employer that a doctor had put her on leave for about a month. The employer was aware of the employee’s symptoms, which included vomiting and chest pains. The employee was fired after failing to provide a doctor’s note within 15 days. The employer violated the FMLA by not providing written notice about the FMLA.
Courts are split over whether the FMLA permits suits against supervisors in the public sector. A District Court found that a postal worker with a knee problem could sue the Postmaster General and his supervisor individually.
The DOL regulations say that once an employer grants FMLA leave, then the employee gets FMLA leave. The Second Circuit now joins the Seventh and Eleventh Circuits holding that an employer may change its mind if it discovers that the employee did not work 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months.
An employee with a spotty attendance record was fired for being out sick. Her leave was not FMLA protected because she did not tell her employer that her absence was due to depression until litigation started.