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Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs (amicus)

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Synopsis

Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs is a case in which the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) wrote an amicus curiae brief to defend the rights passed by Congress under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Description

In this case, an employee of the state of Nevada sued his state employer in federal court, claiming a violation of the FMLA. The lower court held that the suit was barred by the Eleventh Amendment, which prohibits suits against the states in federal courts except where they have waived their immunity or where there was a valid exercise under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit reversed this ruling and found that the FMLA section the case relied upon was a valid exercise of Congress’ powers under the Fourteenth Amendment and that state employees could sue for damages under the FMLA.

Nevada petitioned for review in the Supreme Court, which accepted the case. The fight in the Supreme Court was an uphill battle, given the Court’s current conservative bent. Other difficult points included the seven other circuits (First, Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Eleventh) which held that the FMLA was not enacted according to a valid exercise under the Fourteenth Amendment.

CCR joined with the National Women’s Law Center in submitting an amicus brief to the Supreme Court. CCR’s amicus brief charged that the FMLA is a “congruent and proportional” remedy for sex discrimination in the workplace. The brief also describes the importance of the damages remedy in FMLA actions brought by aggrieved individuals.