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Both the employer and an individual supervisor can be held liable for a violation of an employee’s FMLA rights

In Eichenholz v. Brink’s Inc., the US District Court of Massachusetts ruled that both the employer and the individual supervisor can be liable for violating an employee’s rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This decision is consistent with the majority of federal courts that have addressed the issue of supervisor liability under the FMLA.

From a strategic standpoint, it is helpful for plaintiffs to have the option to sue the supervisor individually. The rules of evidence allow a party to rely on admissions by a named party without having to worry about hearsay objections from the other side. Also, the possibility of individual FMLA liability can complicate matters for employers and their counsel. An employer typically indemnifies supervisors  for legal claims arising from their employment. However, where there are two defendants involved, the employer has to figure out if there is a conflict that requires the employer to hire separate legal counsel for the supervisor. This can make the defense of the case more expensive and unwieldy. In turn, this can give the plaintiff leverage because the defense of the case becomes more burdensome for the employer to litigate.

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
233 Needham Street, Suite 540
Newton, MA 02464


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