FMLA Suit Must be Filed Within Two Years of Violation

In a recent case, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a suit under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) must be filed no later than two years after the date of the last violation. The case was Barrett v. Illinois Department of Corrections.

The case involved Cindy Barrett, who was fired from her job at the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) in October 2010 after accumulating 12 unauthorized absences over a period of seven years. Under IDOC’s absenteeism policy, employees can be fired if they accumulate 12 unauthorized absences from work. The unauthorized absences accrue on an employee’s record but are automatically expunged if the employee has a clean attendance history for a period of 24 consecutive months.

On January 2012, Barrett sued IDOC for violating her rights under the FMLA. She claimed that the three absences that took place on December 15, 2003; December 22, 2004; and August 10, 2005 were for family or medical care and should have been protected by the FMLA.

The district court concluded that the FMLA suit was time-barred and entered judgment for IDOC.

The Seventh Circuit agreed that an FMLA suit must be filed no later than 2 years after the last date constituting the violation for which the action was brought. The alleged FMLA violations period began to run when IDOC denied Barrett’s requests for leave and classified the three contested absences as unauthorized.

The district judge agreed with IDOC, found the suit untimely, and granted IDOC’s motion for summary judgment.

About John Garner

John Garner has over thirty five years of experience in employee benefits. He specializes in compliance, health care reform, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). He helps clients with life, health, and disability benefits, cost containment, flexible benefits, and claim consulting.

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