Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, December 27, 2004

Yet Another FMLA Decision - This Time in 8 Days


In a shorter period than the time you need to give an employee to get a medical certification under the FMLA, the 2nd Circuit tossed an employee's FMLA claim. Argued on December 15th and decided on December 23, (both 2004) the Court obviously did not need a lot of time. Porter v. NYU Law School (2nd Cir. 12/23/04). It helped that the opinion could be short as all the Court needed to do was agree with the 1st and 6th Circuits, that the FLSA definition of willfulness was applicable to the FMLA. Under that test as set out by the Supreme Court:
an employer acts willfully when he or she “knew or showed reckless disregard for the matter of whether its conduct was prohibited by the [FLSA].” The McLaughlin Court added that “[i]f an employer acts reasonably in determining its legal obligation, its action cannot be deemed willful . . . . If an employer acts unreasonably, but not recklessly, in determining its legal obligation, then . . . it should not be . . . considered [willful.]”
Although not giving the specifics, the Court found under that test "the facts alleged by Porter cannot conceivably amount to willful behavior." Since he file more than 2 years after the claim arose, end of story. And just in case you were curious (as I was) none of the three judge panel was a NYU Law School grad.

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