Award of Backpay Under FMLA Could Include Overtime Compensation

First Circuit Court

In this case, on a matter of first impression, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that an award of backpay to an employee for the employer’s violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) properly included overtime compensation.Juan Pagán-Colón, an assistant manager at a Walgreens in Puerto Rico, brought this suit under the FMLA alleging that he was fired in retaliation for taking a medical leave absence. In addition to other damages, Pagán claimed he was entitled to overtime wages under the FMLA as part of “other compensation denied or lost.”

At trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Pagán on his FMLA retaliation claim. As part of his backpay award, the district court included $20,637 in lost overtime wages. In affirming the overtime award, the First Circuit reasoned that, under the FMLA, a prevailing plaintiff may recover “any wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation denied or lost” due to violation of the statute and that overtime pay certainly falls into the category of “other compensation.”

To calculate overtime owed, the district court estimated that Pagán would have worked 6.5 hours of overtime per week over the 125-week period between his termination and the judgment. The court arrived at the 6.5 hours per week figure by using a year-to-date average of Pagán’s weekly hours during the four months preceding his termination. The First Circuit found no error in the district court’s computation of the backpay owed.

Pagán–Colon v. Walgreens of San Patricio, Inc.

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