Employees have up to two years to file FMLA interference lawsuits
Employees have up to two years after a request for FMLA leave is denied to file an FMLA interference lawsuit unless the violation was willful.
Recent case: Kristin was a professor at Macalester College. When she developed a serious medical condition, she began asking for intermittent FMLA leave. That would have required her to reduce the number of courses she taught. The college turned down her request for several semesters.
However, she waited a little over two years to file suit. Then she made yet another course reduction request.
This time, the college granted Kristin’s request—perhaps because she had filed suit and the college realized she might be entitled to the course reduction in order for intermittent leave to work.
However, the college moved to dismiss her lawsuit, arguing that she had waited too long since the last request rejection to sue.
The court agreed. It said Kristin’s new FMLA request did not extend her deadline because the college granted her request, thus fulfilling its FMLA obligation. There was nothing to sue about that had occurred within the two-year limitation period. (Naca v. Macalester College, DC MN, 2017)
Final note: Employers generally know very soon after an alleged adverse employment action that workers intend to sue. For example, Title VII discrimination claims must be filed with the EEOC within 300 days, thus alerting employers fairly early so they can preserve records and prepare a defense. However, that’s not the case with FMLA claims.