KSC Attorneys Prevail In FMLA Action Against Baltimore City Schools

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The Baltimore City Public School System now honors and applies federal law for teachers invoking the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  The School System agreed to honor the FMLA after KSC attorneys Keith Zimmerman, David Gray Wright, and Jackie Togno filed suit against the School System on behalf of the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU).

The suit arose after teachers alerted the BTU that they were being denied FMLA eligibility.  According to the teachers, the School System denied them on the grounds that they had not worked a sufficient number of hours.  The BTU and KSC investigated.

The BTU and KSC determined that the School System was calculating the “hours worked” for each teacher who applied for FMLA.  The School System would make its calculation by multiplying the number of days that the teacher reported to work over the prior twelve months by the length of the instructional day – i.e. seven hours and five minutes.  The calculation did not account for work performed beyond the instructional day, either at the school, at home, on weekends, or wherever and whenever teachers worked.

Federal law recognizes that teachers work well beyond instructional days – grading papers at home, lesson planning early in the morning, staying late to prepare their rooms, supporting clubs, and meeting with students and parents.   Thus, while most employees qualify for FMLA if they have worked 1250 hours over the prior twelve months, that threshold is not applied to teachers.

The BTU, through KSC, filed suit to remedy the School System’s misapplication of FMLA rights.  For a time, the School System insisted that it was not misapplying the FMLA.

However, in a settlement agreement executed on August 31, 2017, the School System agreed to “promptly implement practices and promulgate forms, instructions, and related documentation” to reflect that “as to eligibility, a full-time instructional employee who has been employed with the BCBSC for at least 12 months during the 12-month period immediately preceding the commencement of the leave-month period, shall be eligible for FMLA leave.”  The School System also agreed to remit $75,250 in attorneys’ fees incurred by the BTU.

The agreement represents a victory in the BTU’s ongoing efforts to ensure that the School System properly applies laws and rights to teachers and other employees of the School System.

More information about the BTU can be found at: http://www.baltimoreteachers.org/

More information about the attorneys who handled the case can be found at: