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FMLA Claims Precluded by Workers’ Compensation, Court Says

May 30, 2016 General

A federal court has held that an injured Pennsylvania worker cannot proceed with a claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act because he signed a release as part of the settlement of a workers’ compensation claim.

Craig Zuber was an employee at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market in mid-2014 when he suffered an eye injury. Zuber sought medical attention, attempted to resume his duties two days later, but experienced complications and was granted a medical leave of absence for one week. He then returned to work full-time, but was terminated approximately two weeks later for what company officials called a security breach. Zuber had filed a workers’ compensation claim with his employer, which was settled for $10,000 in April, 2015.

As a part of the settlement, Zuber agreed to “[relinquish] any and all rights to seek any and all past, present and/or future benefits, including, but not limited to, wage loss benefits, specific loss benefits, disfigurement benefits, and/or medical benefits” related to the eye injury.

Zuber alleged that the “security breach” was a false accusation and that the company had violated his rights under the FMLA by not holding his position (or a similar one) open for him while he was on approved medical leave. In response to his federal lawsuit under the FMLA, the company argued that he had waived any rights under the federal law when he signed the settlement agreement in the workers’ compensation action.

The court agreed, stating that “[Zuber’s] execution of a compromise and release agreement in relation to his Workers’ Compensation claim served as a waiver of any FMLA claims or retaliation claims.

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