Dilworth Secures Summary Judgment in Federal Employment Case Under Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Dilworth Paxson  led by labor and employment partner Ben Teris, secured summary judgment for PATHS LLC in a federal employment case under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), a statute enacted in March 2020 during the height of the COVID-19  pandemic that provided paid sick leave for eligible employees. 

“PATHS thanks Ben for helping us navigate the employment landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic and defending us in this case,” said PATHS Principal Tony Mackiewicz.

In the case, Spells v. Physician and Tactical Healthcare Services LLC, a former employee brought a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey against PATHS, arguing the company violated the FFCRA by denying him paid sick leave, then terminating his employment as retaliation for requesting paid sick leave.  On behalf of PATHS, Dilworth moved for summary judgment, arguing that PATHS should be insulated from liability because it relied on Department of Labor regulations and guidance to determine the employee fell within the “health care provider” exemption to the FFCRA, even though the regulations were later vacated by the Southern District of New York.  The District Court agreed with PATHS’ argument, holding that the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “affirmative defense of good faith reliance applies to the FFCRA” and “the defense applies and specifically protects PATHS from liability.”  Accordingly, the Court entered an Opinion and Order granting PATHS’ motion for summary judgment, denying the former employee’s cross-motion, and dismissing the case.

 “We are very proud of the creative and effective lawyering by our partner, Ben Teris in this case,” said Dilworth Chairman Larry McMichael. Ben’s great work reflects the best traditions of the Dilworth firm.”