Employers commonly include waivers of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims in their employees’ general release and severance agreements. The agreements usually do not refer to the FMLA by name, but instead include catch-all provisions releasing claims arising under any other federal, state, or local law.
In May 2003, Barbara Taylor brought a lawsuit against her employer who argued that Taylor had waived her FMLA claims when she signed a general release and severance agreement in exchange for a $12,000 severance package.
The 4th Circuit held that the plain language of the FMLA prohibited the waiver or release of all FMLA claims, whether prospective or retrospective.
The Court made an exception that a waiver of FMLA claims could be made under DOL or court supervision.
Employers may still include specific statutes in the release provisions of a severance agreement but, in doing so, risk excluding other important statutes from its coverage.
“If the pink slip doesn’t fit,