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Employees can’t relitigate state case in federal court

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in FMLA Guidelines

If an employee loses a case in state court and then doesn’t appeal, he can’t just march into federal court.

Recent case: Jadwiga Warwas worked two jobs for two different New Jersey municipalities. She took FMLA leave from her job in Plainfield, using accumulated paid leave. She continued working for the city of Paterson from home. That prompted Plainfield to fire her.

Warwas challenged her dismissal before a state administrative law judge. Then she filed a second federal lawsuit alleging that Plainfield had interfered with her right to FMLA leave.

The court tossed out the case, reasoning that she should have appealed her state case lawsuit rather than file a separate federal claim. (Warwas v. Plainfield, No. 07-4431, DC NJ, 2011)

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