FMLA mistakes aren’t necessarily ‘willful’

Under the FMLA, employees have two years to sue for alleged violations—extended to three years if the violation is “willful.” But not every FMLA mistake is a willful violation.

Recent case: Rosario was often late or absent for personal reasons. Her boss finally cut her schedule to 32 hours per week. She quit. More than two years later, she sued, alleging that her supervisor had willfully violated the FMLA.

The supervisor testified that he reduced Rosario’s schedule to give her more time to deal with family problems. In his mind, he explained, he was trying to help. Rosario argued it was a violation to essentially demote her on the mistaken belief that she needed FMLA leave.

The court concluded that the supervisor was wrong in his interpretation, but not willfully wrong. Rosario therefore had filed her lawsuit too late. (Mejia v. Roma Cleaning, ED NY, 2017)