9th Circuit: Judge, Not Jury, Must Determine Front Pay in FMLA Cases

Online Exclusive: FMLA Expands for Military Family Members

Human Resources Manager Jill Traxler had worked for Oregon's Multnomah County for 15 years when she took her first unpaid medical leave for a serious physical health condition in 2002.

Equitable Relief

The decision is salutary for all employers, says Carl Bosland, managing director of Bosland Consulting Group, which advises on FMLA and state family medical leave requirements. "It helps employers in the sense that it's keeping the decision on the amount of equitable remedies in the FMLA in the hands of a judge, who is apt to be more reasonable in assessing the amount of damages than a jury might be," Bosland explains.

"It's extremely complicated," Owen says. "This kind of leave is not taken in straight blocks. A good portion of the time it's taken intermittently. It's very difficult to keep track of what's FMLA leave and what's not FMLA leave."

To complicate matters, the FMLA has been a moving target for the last couple of years, with Congress and both the Bush and Obama administrations amending the statute and its regulations. The FMLA was changed to expand what is covered--military caregiver and exigency leave, for example--and who is covered.

Cristin Schmitz

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