In Dumas v. New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., No. C 05-4702 PJH, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30042 (N.D.Cal. April 24, 2007), the employee sued his employer for, among other things, violation of the FMLA. The employee was employed by the Defendant from 1988 until 2003 when he was terminated. He alleged that his termination violated the FMLA and California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The CFRA is the California counterpart to the federal FMLA. The FMLA is incorporated into the CFRA.
Dumas failed a compliant against the Defendant with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging that his termination violated the CFRA/FMLA. The DOL complaint was resolved in March of 2004 when plaintiff signed a release of claims and accepted back pay and reinstatement. The DOL settlement language was board and stated that "by accepting the settlement plaintiff is giving up his right under the FMLA to bring suit for lost wages or denied wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation."
Based on the DOL settlement, the Company moved to dismiss the FMLA claims. The Court agreed. The Court found that the employee released all FMLA and CFRA related claims when he signed the DOL settlement. As such, his claim that the Defendant violated the CFRA is barred.
Comment: The decision reaffirms that an employee who resolves their FMLA claim in a DOL-supervised settlement will not be able to maintain a lawsuit against the employer based on those claims. The decision is interesting in that the U.S. Department of Labor only has jurisdiction over the federal FMLA, not the CFRA. The Court read the broad language of the settlement to include CFRA claims.