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Coleman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland

    Brief Fact Summary.

    The extension of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to state employers was contested in the United States Supreme Court.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Congress does not have the power to apply the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to state employers.

    Facts.

    Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employee is allowed to take leave to care for: (1) newborn children, adopted children, or foster children, (2) a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition, or (3) their own serious health condition. Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, 538 U.S. 721 (2003) established the precedent for spousal stipulation to extend to state employers.

    Issue.

    Whether the federal government has the power to apply the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to state employers?

    Held.

    No. Pregnancy discrimination is not covered under the FMLA and therefore does not extend to state employers.

    Dissent.

    (Ginsburg, J.) The employee-health provision of the FMLA should be applied just as the family care provision of the FMLA, as the FMLA was designed to protect against pregnancy discrimination among state employers.

    Concurrence.

    (Scalia, J.) Congress can’t regulate state action that complies with § 5 of the fourteenth amendment.

    Discussion.

    The FMLA was not intended to prevent gender discrimination. Therefore state employees can take leave for gender-related concerns under the state paid-sick leave plans. Congress was more concerned with employee illness rather than gender, so the employee-health provision of the FMLA does not apply to gender-related issues.


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