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Agency May Not, By Regulation, Impose Requirements Beyond the Intent of Congress
Description Appeals court held invalid a regulation that expanded the Family and Medical Leave Act rights of employees beyond the rights specified by Congress in the Act itself. The agency clearly went beyond the intent of Congress in the legislation, so it exceeded its authority.
Topic Administrative Law
Key Words Invalid Regulation; Intent of Congress
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Cox, an employee of AutoZone, took 15 weeks leave when she gave birth. She took 13 weeks of employer-provided paid disability leave, then took unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. When she returned to work, she was demoted for taking excessive leave. She sued, claiming that under the FMLA, she had to be restored to her prior position and that she had the right to take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave after her company-approved leave had been used. The company contended that the FMLA leave ran concurrently with the company-approved leave. She brought her suit under a Department of Labor regulation that requires employers to notify employees that an absence is being counted as FMLA leave before the employer can count the leave against the 12 weeks of FMLA leave and that FMLA leave can be added to company-approved leave. The district court granted summary judgment to AutoZone, Cox appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The regulation is invalid because it converts the statute's minimum of federally-mandated unpaid leave into an entitlement to an additional 12 weeks of leave. Agencies do not have the authority to expand a regulation beyond the intent of what Congress expressed in the regulation. Hence, employers do not have to notify employees that FMLA leave runs concurrently with company-sponsored leave, nor must they allow FMLA leave in addition to company-sponsored leave.
Citation McGregor v. AutoZone, Inc., 180 F.3d 1305 (11th Cir., 1999)

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