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The Wagner Law Group

The Wagner Law Group is a nationally recognized practice in the areas of ERISA and employee benefits, estate planning, employment, labor and human resources and investment management.

 

Established in 1996, The Wagner Law Group is dedicated to the highest standards of integrity, excellence and thought leadership and is considered to be amongst the nation's premier ERISA and employee benefits law firms. The firm has seven offices across the country, providing unparalleled legal advice to its clients, including large, small and nonprofit corporations as well as individuals and government entities worldwide. The Wagner Law Group's 29 attorneys, senior benefits consultant and four paralegals combine many years of experience in their fields of practice with a variety of backgrounds. Seven of the attorneys are AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell and six are Fellows of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, an invitation-only organization of nationally recognized employee benefits lawyers.  Seven of the firm's attorneys have been named to the prestigious Super Lawyers list for 2017, which highlights outstanding lawyers based on a rigorous selection process.

 

 

 

Contact Info

The Wagner Law Group

 

  Integrity | Excellence

  

Boston 

Tel: (617) 357-5200 

Fax: (617) 357-5250 

99 Summer Street 

13th Floor

Boston, MA 02110

 

Washington, D.C.

Tel: (202) 969-2800

 

Fax: (202) 969-2568

 800 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.

Suite 810

Washington, D.C. 20006

 

Chicago

Tel: (847) 990-9034

Fax: (847) 557-1312

190 South LaSalle Street

Suite 2100

Chicago, IL 60603

 

  

Palm Beach Gardens 

Tel: (561) 293-3590
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Suite 125
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

   

Tampa

Tel: (813) 603-2959

Fax: (813) 603-2961

101 East Kennedy Boulevard

Suite 2140
Tampa, FL  33602 

  

San Francisco

Tel: (415) 625-0002

Fax: (415) 358-8300

300 Montgomery Street

Suite 600

San Francisco, CA 94104

  

St. Louis

Tel: (314) 236-0065

Fax: (314) 236-5743
25 W. Moody Avenue
St. Louis, MO  63119 

 

 

www.wagnerlawgroup.com

 

 

 

 

 Individual Supervisor May be

Liable under FMLA

September 7, 2017

 

 

 

A Massachusetts District Court, in Eichenholz v. Brinks Incorporated, et. al., has determined that an individual supervisor may be held personally liable for violating an employee's FMLA rights.

Background. In 2015, the plaintiff notified his supervisor that he needed to take a medical leave of absence in order to have surgery. A week after the plaintiff's medical leave commenced, his supervisor issued a performance improvement plan which criticized the employee's work performance.

When the plaintiff returned to work from FMLA leave, his supervisor sent him another copy of the plan and attempted to make contact by telephone to discuss it. In response, the plaintiff resigned from his position with the employer and proceeded to sue both his former employer and supervisor, as an individual, in federal court, claiming harassment, discrimination and retaliation in violation of his FMLA rights. In turn, the supervisor requested that the court dismiss the plaintiff's claims against him on the basis that an individual supervisor could not be liable for violations of the FMLA.

District Court. In denying the supervisor's motion to dismiss the claims against him, the court first noted that FMLA liability may attach to any "employer" and that the statute provides a broad definition of "employer" that includes any individual who acts directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer to any employees of such employer.

The court next observed that the definition of "employer" under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") was materially identical to the definition contained in the FMLA. Accordingly, because the First Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Massachusetts federal courts) had previously ruled that an individual supervisor may be personally sued for FLSA violations, the court found it was logical to follow this ruling when determining whether the supervisor could be found individually liable for FMLA violations.  

Finally, the court explained that the majority of federal courts considering the issue have determined that individual supervisors can be held personally liable for violating the FMLA rights of employees under their supervision. Therefore, the court rejected the supervisor's argument that an individual could not be personally liable under FMLA and allowed the plaintiff the opportunity to prove his claims against the supervisor at trial.

Employer Takeaway. Massachusetts supervisors must now face the possibility of personal liability for violating the FMLA rights of their subordinate employees. Therefore, supervisors must exercise due caution when it comes to FMLA compliance and assume that any request for time off for a medical reason is a request for FMLA leave. In addition, supervisors should receive training from their employers on the proper processing of FMLA leave requests.

 

 

 

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This Newsletter is provided for information purposes by The Wagner Law Group to clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter, and may not be relied upon as specific legal advice.  This material is not to be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. Under the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered advertising.