Thursday, January 6, 2011

Connecticut Case Displays Importance of Paying Attention to Technical Requirements of Statutes

As an attorney who primarily focuses on employment matters, I often find myself in a situation where I am either talking with a potential client or employer's counsel about the merits of a case and it isn't long into discussion where it finally comes up that perhaps the employer isn't subject to a particular statute. For example, not every employer is subject to Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements if they do not have the requisite minimum amount of employees during a given time period. A case out of Connecticut displays how not paying attention to such technical statutory requirements can be quite detrimental (and embarrassing).

A woman filed suit in Connecticut court alleging violations of both Connecticut state employment laws as well as violations of Title VII. Because of the federal law counts, the matter was moved into federal court and then the defense moved for summary judgment upon the completion of discovery arguing that no more than 5 people were employed during the relevant times. Title VII requires that an employer employ 15 or more employees in each of 20 or more weeks in a year. The defense successfully proved they did not and the federal district court granted summary judgment dismissing the Title VII claims and remanded the leftover state charges to state court where those may also be dismissed if similar requirements are also present.

Lesson to be learned: pay attention to technical requirements ASAP.

The case is Jacobson v. Int't Tours & Events LLC.

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