Family and Medical Leave Litigation Down Sharply

The latest available data from the federal courts show that during November 2017 the government reported 88 new court cases seeking relief under the Family and Medical Leave Act. According to the case-by-case court records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, this number is down 12.9 percent over the previous month when the number of civil filings of this type totaled 101. See Table 1.

Table 1. Family and Medical Leave Act Civil Filings
Number Latest Month 88
Number Latest Month -12.9%
Number Latest Peak (August 2017) 143
Percent Change from peak -38.5%

The Family and Medical Leave Act generally provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to treat a serious medical condition, to care for a newborn child, or to allow the employee to care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition. During this period the employee's job is protected and any group health insurance coverage the employee had is continued.

November 2017 marks the third month in a row where filings have been falling. Case filings are down 38.5 percent over the last three months. While there is natural month to month variation in filings, litigation levels had generally been slowly rising. In fact, the number of filings for over a year had not fallen below a level of at least 100 new cases each month.

The long term trend in Family and Medical Leave Act civil litigation going back five years is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of family and medical leave act civil filings of this type recorded each month. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out.

Figure 1. Family and Medical Leave Act Civil Filings Over the Last Five Years

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

Understandably, there is great variation in the number of Family and Medical Leave Act lawsuits filed in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

Table 2. Top Ten Districts
Judicial District Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago
Fla, M 12 1 1 -
N. J. 10 2 4 12
Fla, S 5 3 - -
Penn, E 4 4 - 6
R. I. 3 5 - -
Iowa, S 3 5 - 3
Conn 3 5 10 -
Ohio, N 3 5 4 12
Ohio, S 3 5 10 -
Mich, E 3 5 4 3
Texas, N 3 5 10 6
  • The Middle District of Florida - with 12 civil filings - was the most active during November 2017. The Middle District of Florida was also ranked 1st a year ago.

  • The District of New Jersey ranked 2nd. The District of New Jersey was ranked 4th a year ago.

  • The Southern District of Florida now ranks 3rd.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in Family and Medical Leave Act civil filings compared to one year ago - 233 percent - was New Jersey. This was the same district that had the largest increase - 900 percent - when compared with five years ago.

Each month, TRAC offers a free report focused on one area of civil litigation in the U.S. district courts. In addition, subscribers to the TRACFed data service can generate custom reports by district, office, nature of suit or federal jurisdiction via the TRAC Data Interpreter.