CBS Washington reports that the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote that states cannot be sued for refusing to give employees time off to recover from an illness. The Court’s decision will not let Daniel Coleman sue the Maryland State Court of Appeals for damages for firing him after he requested sick leave. He “blamed Congress for not equating family care and self-care when lawmakers wrote the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).”
Coleman had asked for a medical leave of 10 days in 2007 to deal with hypertension and diabetes. After being what he said was wrongfully fired after his request was denied, he sued for $1.1 million in damages under the FMLA, but his lawsuit was thrown out, and the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said states could not be sued under the FMLA.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote for the Supreme Court’s majority, said, “An explicit purpose of the Congress in adopting the FMLA was to improve workplace conditions for women. But states may not be subjected to suits for damages based on violations of a comprehensive statute unless Congress has identified a specific pattern of constitutional violations by state employers.”
The case is Coleman vs. Court of Appeals of Maryland, 10-1016.