SW Legal Educational Publishing

Managers May Be Individually Liable for FMLA Violations
Description Employee was denied requested leave and then dismissed for excess absences. Court determined that FMLA had been violated and that the corporation and her manager, who had some control over her absences, could both be liable.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words FMLA, Personal Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Bryant was fired for excessive absences. The absences were due to serious illness of her son and health problems of her own. She was given some time off, but other requests, which were held to have been valid requests within her rights under the FMLA were denied. She sued her employer and her manager. The employer was found liable for FMLA violations; the question was whether an individual manager could be liable for FMLA violations.
Decision The manager could be liable. The case goes to the jury. The FMLA includes "any person who acts ... in the interest of an employer." While her manager did not make the final determination to fire her, he made various daily decisions about her absences, as he had "all the personnel responsibilities in the plant." He was not involved in each absence decision, but had met with Bryant and told her she was to be fired if she missed any more work and had discussed the matter with the personnel manager at headquarters. Hence, he meets the law's definition of "an employer" and can be individually liable.
Citation Bryant v. Delbar Products, Inc., ---F.2d--- (1998 WL 546382, M.D., Tenn.)
18 F.Supp.2d 799 (M.D., Tenn., 1998)

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