The Supreme Court Limits Lawsuits Filed Over the Family Medical Leave Act

March 23, 2012 by Jim Higgins

In Tennessee and all across the United States employees by law are allowed to take leave for their own medical condition or to care for a loved one under the Family Medical Leave Act. However, a new Supreme Court ruling is now limiting the lawsuits that can be filed against the government because of a Family Medical Leave Act violation. According to the ruling, state workers are not allowed to sue for their employers for compensation for violating part of the federal Family Medical Leave Act. In 2003, the court decided that lawsuits against state employers under the part of the Family Medical Leave Act concerning caring for family members were allowed.

This recent decision concerned part of the act that entitled eligible employees to take leaves to care for their own serious medical problems. The court titled this provision “self-care provision” and it was written in general neutral terms. However, some of the justices were divided about whether or not the law meant to discuss sex discrimination. Under the court’s standards, Congress does not have the authority to take away the states’ immunity from lawsuits under its power to regulate interstate commerce. Congress must depend on its power under Section five of the 14th amendment to enforce the amendments guaranteed equal protection and due process.

According to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, “Without widespread evidence of sex discrimination or sex stereotyping in the administration of sick leave, it is apparent that the Congressional purpose in enacting the self-care provision is unrelated to these supposed wrongs.” Two other Justices agreed with his opinion. Justice Ginsburg wrote that” Suits for money under the self-care provision are still allowed against private employers, and other kinds of actions remain available against state employers.”

In Tennessee and all across the U.S. workers take Family Medical Leave to care for themselves and their loved ones. To find out more about how this recent Supreme Court decision on FMLA may affect your current or future case, we recommend that you contact one of our caring and knowledgeable Tennessee employment FMLA attorneys as soon as possible. We care about our clients and will answer any questions you have as well as help you to get any compensation you may be entitled to.

Contact us online or call us at 800.705.2121 to set up a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options