FMLA/Leaves of Absence

With more and more employees working off-site or from home, employers must be aware of the impact on courts’ interpretation of the FMLA’s eligibility requirements. In June, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana held in Donahoe-Bohne that the FMLA’s 50-employee threshold was met since the office to which a remote or telecommuting employee reported had at least 50 employees, even though the employee worked from home several states away.

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Earlier this month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved six weeks of fully-paid leave for new parents, the first city-wide legislation of its kind in the nation. Parents are entitled to the benefit if they have been employed by the employer for at least 180 days, work at least eight hours per week within the city or county of San Francisco, spend at least 40% of their hours per week working within the city or county of San Francisco, and are eligible to receive paid family leave from the State of California under the California Paid Family Leave law for the purpose of bonding with a new child. The new law requires that employers make up the difference between the benefit provided by the California Paid Family Leave law and 100% of the employee’s normal gross weekly wage.
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On March 17, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided Graziadio v. Culinary Institute of America, holding that sufficient evidence existed to find that the Culinary Institute of America’s (“CIA”) human resources director was an “employer” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and could therefore be held individually liable for violations of the FMLA.
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On August 9, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez issued an internal memo calling for the implementation of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor.  In that case, the Court held that section three of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), which limited the definition of marriage to “a legal union between one man and one woman,” violated due process and equal protection principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment.  The internal memo stated that the Department of Labor (“DOL”) will be removing references to DOMA from its correspondence, and will be working to ensure the availability of spousal leave based on same-sex marriages under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).


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A surgeon recently brought suit against his employer, in Staveley-O’Carroll v. Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, alleging that he was fired in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).  No. 1:13-cv-01555-YK (M.D. Pa. filed June 18, 2013). Interestingly, the surgeon is not claiming that he was entitled to, requested, or took FMLA leave.  Rather, he claims that he was retaliated against for defending his secretary’s FMLA rights.


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EMPLOYMENT DECISIONS

Vance v. Ball State University: Narrow Definition of Supervisor in Harassment Suits
In Vance, the Supreme Court announced a narrow standard for determining which employees constitute “supervisors” for purposes of establishing vicarious liability under Title VII. In a 5-4 decision, the Court decided that a supervisor is a person authorized to take “tangible