The U.S. Supreme Court this morning asked the government for its views on whether workers may settle Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims with their employers. The SCOTUS Blog has the details:
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the U.S. Solicitor General for the government’s view on whether workers may settle with their employers their claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The issue arises in Progress Energy v. Taylor (07-539). The Fourth Circuit Court (download decision here), ruling in conflict with the Fifth Circuit Court, decided that a Labor Department regulation barred both past and future waiver of all FMLA rights. The Labor Department has taken the position that its regulation permits backward-looking release of claims under that law.
The Fourth Circuit’s decision arises mainly from a regulation promulgated by the Department of Labor. Specifically, 29 C.F.R. § 825.220(d) states that "[e]mployees cannot waive, nor may employers induce employees to waive, their rights under [the] FMLA." That decision created a split in the circuits that have decided the issue.
Lots of outside parties have already submitted papers at the U.S. Supreme Court asking for consideration of this issue including the Association of Corporate Counsel, Society for Human Resource Management, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
For those in Connecticut, remember that the state regulations mirror the federal regulations on this particular subject. So it is likely that a U.S. Supreme Court decision may also have an impact on how this issue is ultimately decided in Connecticut. Conn. Regs. 31-51qq-25(d) states:
Employees cannot waive, nor may employers induce employees to waive, their rights under FMLA. For example, employees (or their collective bargaining representatives) cannot “trade off” the right to take FMLA leave against some other benefit offered by the employer.
It remains to be seen if the U.S. Supreme Court will take up this issue or wait for the split in circuits to become clearer. But given that the Roberts court has taken up several employment law claims for consideration, don’t be surprised if this issue gets put on the docket later this winter.