Haybarger v. Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole, 667 F.3d 408 (3rd Cir. 2012)

Parties:

Plaintiff: Debra Haybarger (former state employee).

Defendant: Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole (employer), County of Lawrence (county), and William Mancino (supervisor).

 

Procedural History:

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted the supervisor’s motion for summary judgment.

Issues:

1.         Can a supervisor in a public agency be held liable in his individual capacity under the FMLA?

2.         Is there a genuine issue of fact to whether or not William Mancino was the plaintiff’s supervisor?

Holding:

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits individual liability for public sector supervisors.  Further, there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether Mancino was a supervisor.

Facts:

Debra Haybarger began working for the defendant in 1988.  She has Type II diabetes, heart disease, and kidney problems which forced her to miss work frequently.  While her supervisor, Mancino, knew of her health problems, he was unhappy about her attendance.  In 2004, Haybarger was placed on probation based on her job performance.  After six months, it was determined that Haybarger did not make any progress and that her termination was necessary.  After being terminated, Haybarger brought this retaliation suit.

Reasoning:

In holding that the supervisor could be held individually liable under the FMLA, the court first held that because the FLSA and FMLA definitions were materially identical, FLSA decisions were the best guidance for construing the FMLA term. Next, the court opined that it could discern “no reason to distinguish between public agencies and private employers under the FMLA insofar as individual liability is concerned”.  And finally, the court systematically rejected each of the Sixth’s Circuit’s arguments in Mitchell.

Ruling:

Vacated and remanded.

 

 

 

By: John Brosnan

 


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