Metz Lewis Brodman Must O'Keefe

Metz Lewis Brodman Must O'Keefe

Posted on April 9, 2012

In a case of first impression, the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that individual supervisors, including those of public agencies, may be held personally liable for their violations of the Family Medical Leave Act.  In Hayberger v. Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole, the court held that the FMLA “plainly contemplates” individual liability insofar as the definition of “employer” includes “any person who acts, directly or indirectly, in the interest of an employer to any of the employees of such employer.”  The court interpreted this definition to mean individuals are subject to FMLA liability when he or she exercises supervisory authority over the complaining employee and was responsible in whole or in part for the alleged violation.

The court found there was sufficient evidence to create an issue of fact whether the supervisor inHayberger met the Act’s definition of “employer” where the record showed he exercised authority (even though it was not final authority) over her termination decision, and he controlled other conditions of her employment such as preparing annual reviews and issuing other lesser forms of discipline.  This development serves as further notice to all covered employers of the need for training among supervisors for both the good of a company and its individuals.

If you have any questions about the FMLA or other employment matters, please contact Kenneth S. Kornacki at 412-918-1109 or

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