Citation. 538 U.S. 721, 123 S.Ct. 1972, 155 L.Ed.2d 953 (2003).
Brief Fact Summary.
Plaintiff was terminated from his position after exhausting his FMLA leave and filed suit.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Qualified employees may recover money damages if their employer prevents exercise of their rights under the family care provision of FMLA.
Plaintiff was granted 12 weeks of FMLA to care for his ailing wife following a car accident and neck surgery. Following, Defendant informed Plaintiff he had exhausted his FMLA leave and no further leave would be granted. Plaintiff failed to report to work and was terminated. He filed suit, arguing Defendant had violated FMLA, which allowed for money damages.
Whether an employee may recover money damages against an employer if the employer prevents exercise of rights under the family care provision of the FMLA.
Yes. An employee may recover money damages against an employer if the employer prevents exercise of rights under the family care provision of the FMLA.
I agree with J. Kennedy. There is no guilt by association under our Constitution. Today’s opinion, however, treats the states as some collective entity which is guilty or innocent as a body.
FMLA is invalid to the extent it allows for private suits against unconsenting states because Congress does not have authority. Additionally, the Court here is unable to show that the states have engaged in a pattern of unlawful conduct which warrants the remedy of opening the state treasuries to private suits.
As long as it clearly expresses its intent, Congress may abrogate common law pursuant to its commerce powers. The provision at issue is clearly a valid exercise of this power.
When Congress passed FMLA, they intended to protect the right to be free from gender-based discrimination in the workplace. The legislative record reflects a long history of past discrimination in giving employees family leave benefits. Congress relied on both its commerce power and the 14th Amendment in enacting FMLA.
By creating an across-the-board, routine employment benefit for all eligible employees, Congress sought to ensure that family care leave would no longer be stigmatized as an inordinate drain on the workplace caused by female employees, and that employers could not evade leave obligations simply by hiring men. For these reasons, FMLA is congruent and promotional to its remedial object. Judgement affirmed.