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HR and Tax Newsletter-July 2003



State Employees are covered by FMLA. The Supreme Court has held that state employees are covered by the FMLA. The decision means that public employees may sue public employers for monetary damages as well as injunctive relief.
Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs.

Treating Physician Rule Doesn't Apply to Disability Plans. The Supreme Court has held that treating physicians are not entitled to special deference by ERISA plan administrators. As a practical matter this decision means that plans can give equal weight to the opinions of physicians that plans hire to help in evaluating disability claims as they give to those physicians treating the disabled person. Black and Decker Disability Plan v. Nord.

A Mere Suspicion that an Age Claim Exists Does Not Start Limitations Period. The Eleventh Circuit has held that a mere suspicion of age discrimination does not start 180 day statute of limitations for age claims. Instead, the limitations period starts when the victim has knowledge of the discrimination. In Jones, the terminated employee was told that she was being let go for financial reasons. A month later she learned the company was looking for a replacement and suspected that she had been lied to and was the victim of age discrimination. About five months after that she learned that a younger woman had been hired for her old position. The Eleventh Circuit concluded that the limitations period started to run when the employee learned that a younger woman had been hired for her position. Jones v. Dillard's Inc.