Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) September 4, 2015 - Workers are entitled to Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits. If a manager denies those benefits, a court may hold them personally liable.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and FMLA allow workers to sue individuals for denying them benefits, and that includes HR directors and managers and the company CEO. The second important thing to note is that there are some state laws that also state that supervisors may be held personally liable for discrimination on the job.
Personal liability is a frightening term when it comes to being held legally responsible for being in non-compliance of a law. It means the assets of an individual being sued may be targeted, and that includes but may not be limited to their savings, house and vehicles.
“This aspect of FMLA benefits is particularly crucial for HR managers and companies to know and thoroughly understand,” said Timothy Coffey, a noted Chicago employment attorney. There are a handful of federal laws that hold out the spectre of personal liability for non-compliance, and two of the most important laws relating to workers are the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (1993).
Having a passing knowledge of how to handle FMLA benefits is a good place to start, but having an in-depth and comprehensive grasp is far better. A plaintiff’s attorney will dig deeply on behalf of their client to get them the benefits they are entitled to by law. It does not make any difference if an HR manager works for a public or private company. If a worker sues an individual personally, all assets are fair game.
Consider the case of Modica v. Taylor, No. 05-50075, 5th Cir., a former inspector with the Texas Cosmetology Commission. She hurt her knee while on the job and asked the executive director if the FMLA covered her leave. Instead of receiving a reply to her query, she was fired for not returning to work by a certain date. This is not the only case to have been filed against the Texas Cosmetology Commission. Another similar case, McCollum v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation., deals with another inspector/investigator for the Commission being subjected to reprisal and retaliation, a hostile workplace and allegations of race, age and physical disability discrimination in the workplace.
In the Modica lawsuit, the Commission director was sued personally for dismissing Modica in apparent retaliation for asking about FMLA leave. In reply to that allegation, the director stated government workers could not be personally sued for FMLA violations.
The court disagreed and ruled that any supervisor or management personnel who denies workers FMLA rights may be sued personally. “This is clearly a case that sends employers a message that they need to take extremely seriously,” said Coffey.
THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
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Chicago, IL 60654