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Ragsdale Decision Narrower Than Asserted

By John S. McClenahen Although the National Chamber Litigation Center, a unit of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is claiming a "major victory for the business community and employers' rights," the U.S. Supreme Court's March 19 decision in Ragsdale v. Wolverine Worldwide Inc. is rather narrowly drawn. A 5-4 majority of the Court struck down a U.S. Labor Department regulation that would have required the shoe company to grant employee Tracy Ragsdale 12 additional weeks of leave under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because the firm had not told her that a 30-week absence for cancer treatment counted against the leave time available under the law. However, the Supreme Court specifically said that while it was invalidating a specific regulation, it was not deciding whether "the notice and designation requirements [of the FMLA] are themselves valid" or "whether other means of enforcing them might be consistent with the statute."

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