The reminders of the FMLA challenges facing multi-state employers in complying with state leave laws are frequent and the risk grows regularly. This time, the challenge came from Connecticut. Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Act (CFMLA) applies to employers with 75 employees. Is that 75 employees in-state or nationwide?
In 2001, the state Department of Labor, which enforces the law, held that only in-state employees are counted to determine whether an employer has 75 employees. On May 14, 2010, in Velez v. Patricia Mayfield, a Superior Court held that the DOL’s view was not reasonable, and that there are no geographic limitations in counting employees under the CFMLA. As a result, multi-state employers with less than 75 employees in Connecticut—those with even a single employee in Connecticut–but more than 75 total employees must comply with the CFMLA for its in-state employees. And compliance is not just a matter of adding “Connecticut” to your federal policy. CFEPA varies significantly from the federal FMLA. For example, it has different forms, different eligibility requirements, grants eligible employees 16 weeks of leave every 24 months, does not have a small worksite exception, does not recognize the “key employee” exception and prohibits consideration of CFMLA time in determining whether an employee is eligible for a bonus, to name just a few.
What’s a multi-state employer to do? To manage risk, constant vigilance and on-the-ground resources are required. Monitoring new state laws is not enough. The challenge here came from a Connecticut trial court. And there’s no way to predict where the next challenge will come from.