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Legal Memorandum: Barring a Claim under the FMLA

Issue: When does the rule set out in Cehrs v. Northeast Ohio Alzheimer’s Research Center bar a claim under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Cehrs rule; Family Medical Leave Act; Barring a claim
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 155 F.3d 775; 268 F.3d 989
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 05/01/2007

A defendant may invoke the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Cehrs v. Northeast Ohio Alzheimer’s Research Center, 155 F.3d 775 (6th Cir. 1998), for the proposition that if a plaintiff cannot show that he would have been able to return to work from a 12-week FMLA leave, there is no violation of the FMLA.

But Cehrs is inapplicable to the instant question for two reasons.  First, Cehrs does not apply when the plaintiff’s allegation revolves around the employer’s failure to give her notice that she was entitled to FMLA leave.  See Plant v. Morton Int’l, Inc., 212 F.3d 929, 934-36 (6th Cir. 2000) (notice regulations, not Cehrs, controlled; holding that the employee was “not precluded from asserting an FMLA claim due to the fact that he would have been unable to return to work within a twelve-week period”); Tate v. Farmland Indus., Inc., 268 F.3d 989, 996-98 (10th Cir. 2001) (same).  Second, the Cehrs rule applies to bar a claim when the employee is unable to return to work because the health condition for which she took the FMLA leave has continued, rendering the employee unable to perform the duties of her job.  See also Katekovich v. Team Rent A Car of Pittsburgh, Inc., 36 F. App’x 688 (3d Cir. 2002).

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