The Wagner Law Group Description
Wagner Law Group, A Professional Corporation, is a nationally
recognized ERISA & employee benefits, estate planning,
employment, labor & human resources practice.
in 1996, The Wagner Law Group has 23 attorneys engaged
exclusively in employee benefits, estate planning and
employment law. Seven of our attorneys are AV rated by
Martindale-Hubbell as having very high to preeminent legal abilities
and ethical standards. The firm is among the largest ERISA boutiques
in the country. Our practice is national in scope, with clients in
more than 40 states and several foreign countries.
Wagner Law Group
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
Francisco, CA 94104
West Deerpath Road
Lake Forest, IL 60045
April 24, 2014
State and Federal Law
Can Waive FMLA Rights for Past Violations
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an employee can
waive her claim against an employer for alleged violations of the
Family Medical Leave Act (the "FMLA"). In Paylor v. Hartford Life,
the Eleventh Circuit held that a Department of Labor regulation,
which prohibits the waiver of prospective rights under the FMLA, only
applies to waivers for future FMLA violations.
Background. In Paylor,
the plaintiff, while working for the employer, requested and received
FMLA leave on two separate occasions. The plaintiff proceeded to
request additional FMLA leave. Shortly after this request, the
employer issued a performance warning and requested that she either
sign a severance agreement that required her to waive her FMLA claims
or agree to a performance improvement plan that required her to meet
certain performance benchmarks or face termination.
plaintiff opted for the severance agreement. Shortly after signing
the severance agreement, she sued the employer alleging that:
- The employer interfered with her
FMLA rights and retaliated against her for exercising these
- The severance agreement did not
foreclose her FMLA claim because it was based on her outstanding
request for FMLA leave, and the DOL regulation prevents the
waiver of prospective FMLA rights.
Circuit's Decision. The Eleventh Circuit
decided in favor of the employer and affirmed the lower court's
dismissal of the plaintiff's lawsuit, holding that the plaintiff
waived her FMLA claims when she signed the severance agreement. The
Eleventh Circuit concluded that the DOL regulation did not affect her
waiver because the alleged FMLA violations occurred before she signed
the severance agreement waiver.
Eleventh Circuit clarified that the DOL regulation's protection of
prospective rights refers only to future violations, finding that:
- The DOL added the word
"prospective" to the regulation in 2009 to resolve a
split among the U.S. Courts of Appeal, and it is
well-established law that employees can release FMLA claims for
- The plain language of the DOL
regulation suggests that prospective rights are limited to
future violations by the employer.
- The plaintiff's position that
prospective rights include all unexercised FMLA rights is too
broad because that definition would make it unlawful for
employers to request a waiver from any eligible employee with an
outstanding request for FMLA leave.
of Paylor on
Employers. In the wake of the
Eleventh Circuit's decision in Paylor,
employers now have more certainty regarding the enforceability of
FMLA releases, including those contained in severance agreements.
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