Kenney v. Meadowview Nursing and Convalescent Center

308 N.J. Super. 565, 706 A.2d 295 (App. Div. 1998)
  • Opinion Date: March 3, 1998

EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE; FAMILY LEAVE ACT; WORKER’S COMPENSATION—For the purpose of calculating the number of hours worked by an employee for eligibility under the Family Leave Act, regular hours for which an employee is compensated under worker’s compensation laws are to be counted.

An injury suffered on the job caused an employee to miss over 350 hours of work. When the employee returned to work, she was pregnant and sought information concerning her benefits under the employer’s family leave policy. The employer denied her the benefits of the Family Leave Act claiming she had not worked the required 1,000 hours during the previous 12 months. Although she had actually worked 974 hours during that period, the employer refused to give her credit for any of the hours she missed as a result of her injury. The employee filed a complaint alleging violation of the Act. The motion judge granted summary judgment for the employer after agreeing that the employee failed to meet the Act’s 1,000 hour requirement.

The Appellate Division first examined the legislative history behind the Family Leave Act, finding that the Act intends to promote the economic security of families by requiring that an employee be restored to the position held when the leave commenced. The Court disagreed with the employer that no credit should be given for the hours the employee had been unable to work due to her injury. The Court felt this was too narrow a view. Although the plain meaning of the Act’s use of the term “employee” did not expressly include or exclude credit for hours missed due to a job-related injury, the Court felt that the legislature did not intend to exclude an employee from the scope of the Act simply because a portion of the 1,000 hours was the result of a work-related injury. The Court also cited the principle of the Worker’s Compensation Act that requires compensation for work-related injuries and prohibits discrimination against an employee for claiming such benefits. After considering the Worker’s Compensation Act together with the Family Leave Act, and the legislative intent of each, the Court concluded that the employee had satisfied the 1,000 hour requirement and was eligible to receive benefits under the Family Leave Act.