September 18, 2012

CT court limits Family & Medical Leave Act

The state Supreme Court says the state's Family and Medical Leave Act applies only to businesses that employ enough qualifying workers in Connecticut, The Waterbury Republican American reports.

The high court ruled that workers in other states can't be counted toward the minimum requirement of 75 employees the leave law requires, RepAm.com reports.

The 15-page decision, which was released Monday, upheld a determination by the state Department of Labor in a claim against Related Management Co.

The real estate company has more than 1,000 employees nationwide, but the labor department determined that fewer than 75 of those workers are employed in Connecticut.

A former RMC worker had complained that the company refused to bring her back as an office manager after a 12-week medical leave had expired. Joaquina Velez broke her wrist in a fall while on the job and her doctor had told her she would have to wait until she fully recovered before she could return to work.

Velez requested a light-duty assignment in the interim; the company declined her request, and then fired her a week later.

The labor department rejected Velez's claim that RMC's actions violated the state's leave law, saying the company did not have the minimum required number of employees.

Velez successfully appealed that determination in Superior Court. The labor department then contested the ruling to the state Appellate Court.

The state Supreme Court then decided to hear the case itself. The high court voted 7-0 to reverse the trial court's judgment.

The ruling said Velez's contention that the legislature intended out-of-state workers to be counted would create a "logistical nightmare" for employers. Additionally, it would burden the labor department because it would have conduct investigations of employment records in other states.

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