Employment-First Circuit Rules That Plaintiff Who Did Not Work Enough Hours To Be Eligible For FMLA Leave Could Not Maintain A Claim Of Interference With FMLA Rights

In McCardle v. Town of Dracut/Dracut Public Schools, No. 13-1044 (1st Cir. 2013), the plaintiff, Raymond McArdle (“McArdle”), is a former teacher in the public schools of the town of Dracut, Massachusetts. He claims, among other things, that Dracut improperly handled his request for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (the “FMLA”) and forced him to resign in retaliation for seeking such leave. The district court granted summary judgment against McCardle, ruling that he had not worked enough to be eligible for FMLA leave, and otherwise finding his claims meritless. McCardle appeals.

In analyzing the case, the First Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that McCardle was not eligible to take FMLA leave. To be eligible, an employee must have at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period. Under the applicable regulations, an employer of a full-time teacher who challenges the FMLA eligibility of that teacher must be able to clearly demonstrate that the teacher did not work 1,250 hours.

Here, Dracula, um Dracut (ok-had to do that on Halloween) demonstrated that McArdle attended school for only eighty-two days in the twelve months preceding the applicable determination date. That leaves one question: how many hours did McArdle work? He testified that, when he actually came to school, he was typically in his classroom from 6:15 AM to 1:45 PM, a total of 7.5 hours. The collective bargaining agreement to which he is subject also specifies a 7.5 hour workday. 7.5 hours times 82 days equals 615 hours worked. Not enough hours for FMLA leave eligibility. Even if he had worked some hours after school, that would not bring him up to the required 1,250 hours. The Court ruled that, since McCardle was not eligible for FMLA leave, he could not maintain a claim that the employer interfered with his rights to take such leave. The Court agreed with the district court that the remainder of McCardle’s contentions were baseless, and affirmed the summary judgment granted by the district court.