Mondaq (03/12/12) Peter L. Frattarelli
A ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for the Delaware Valley adds the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to the list of employment laws for which supervisors and managers can be held individually liable, meaning that they can face lawsuits from employees dissatisfied with how their FMLA requests have been handled. In Haybarger v. Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole, an employee sued her employer and her supervisor for allegedly terminating her in retaliation for work that was missed for medical reasons. While the trial court dismissed the claim against her supervisor because she only has the ability to recommend termination, the appeals court broadened the FMLA definition of “employer” to include individuals that have supervisory authority over the employee making the complaint and that are wholly or partly responsible for the alleged violation. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. Supreme Court will make a decision on the matter, but in the meantime, experts stress that employers ensure supervisors and managers receive sufficient training in handling FMLA requests.