November 4, 2005

Hibbs loses.

With all the talk today of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the relationship between Judge Alito's decision in Chittister and the Supreme Court's decision in Hibbs, it's interesting to see that Mr. Hibbs himself lost his case today:
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal from a former Nevada state worker fired from his job after taking several months off to help his wife who had been injured in a car accident.

The appeals court ruled Wednesday against William Hibbs, who won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2003 that preserved protections for workers under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act - only to see his own case later dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Howard McKibben of Reno.

In upholding McKibben, a three-judge panel of the circuit court said Hibbs got more than five months of leave from his job as a state welfare worker, far more than the 12-week FMLA period, and still didn't return to work when told that his leave had expired.

"When Hibbs was eventually fired two months after being informed that his leave had expired, he had long since departed the protections of the FMLA," the court added in its decision favoring the Nevada Department of Human Resources.

The court also agreed that Hibbs failed to provide evidence to support his claim that he was fired in 1997 in retaliation for taking FMLA-authorized leave.

1 comment:

John Jenkins said...

Color me unsympathetic, but I don't see what this guy's beef ever actually was. After five months, why should we expect any employer to welcome someone back? What happened to his wife is assuredly unfortunate, but it's a strange system that requires an innocent third party to directly bear part of the resulting costs (hiring and training a replacement, only to lose that investment in the near future with no possibility of recouping the outlay).

There's just no good reason for the government to interfere with employment relationships this way. If people want FMLA-like protections, then they can be negotiated for if you're valuable enough. If you're fungible, well, employers are too, so find another one.