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Zuber v. Boscov's

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

September 11, 2017

CRAIG ZUBER, Appellant
v.
BOSCOV'S

          Argued March 16, 2017

          On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (District Court No.: 5:15-cv-03874) District Judge: Honorable Jeffrey L. Schmehl

          Counsel for AppellantManali Arora, Esq. [ARGUED] Joshua S. Boyette, Esq.

          Counsel for Appellee Alexander W. Ross, Jr., Esq.

          Counsel for Amicus Curiae Lawrence R. Chaban, Esq.

          Before: GREENAWAY, JR., SHWARTZ, and GREENBERG, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          Greenaway, JR., Circuit Judge.

         In this appeal, we must determine whether a former employee waived his right to assert claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. § 2617 ("FMLA"), and Pennsylvania common law when he signed a Compromise and Release Agreement ("C&R") to settle his workers' compensation claims. The District Court held that the former employee had waived his claim, and granted Boscov's Motion to Dismiss. We disagree and will reverse and remand the case.

         I. Background

         This controversy arises from the following facts alleged: Craig Zuber ("Zuber") worked as an employee of Boscov's Inc. ("Boscov's") at Fairgrounds Farmers' Market in Reading, Pennsylvania. On or about August 12, 2014, Zuber suffered an injury at work. He immediately filed a workers' compensation claim, and received work leave. Zuber returned to work on August 14, and on August 17, he requested an additional week of medical leave. The Human Resource Manager granted the request, and Zuber returned to work on August 26. On September 10, Boscov's fired Zuber, and, on April 8, 2015, Boscov's and Zuber signed a C&R before the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Workers' Compensation Office.

         On July 9, 2015, Zuber sued Boscov's under the FMLA and Pennsylvania common law. He alleged that: (1) Boscov's interfered with his FMLA rights by failing to notify him of those rights and by not designating his leave as FMLA protected; (2) Boscov's retaliated against him for exercising his FMLA rights; and (3) Boscov's retaliated against him for filing a workers' compensation claim in violation of Pennsylvania common law. Boscov's moved to dismiss Zuber's complaint, arguing that he waived his FMLA and common law rights because the C&R is a general release of any claim. The District Court dismissed Zuber's complaint because of paragraph nineteen of the C&R. Its reading of that paragraph relied upon its interpretation of Hoggard v. Catch, Inc., Civ. No. 12-4783, 2013 WL 3430885 (E.D. Pa. July 9, 2013), an unpublished district court decision. Paragraph nineteen provides as follows:

Employer and Employee intend for the herein Compromise and Release Agreement to be a full and final resolution of all aspects of the 8/12/2014 alleged work injury claim and its sequela whether known or unknown at this time. In exchange for Employer paying Employee the one-time lump sum payment as noted in paragraph number 10 of the herein Compromise and Release Agreement, Employee is forever relinquishing any and all rights to seek any and all past, present and/or future benefits, including, but not limited to, wage loss benefits, specific loss benefits, disfiguement [sic] benefits, medical benefits or any other monies of any kind including, but not limited to, interest, costs, attorney's fees and/or penalties for or in connection with the alleged 8/12/2015 [sic] work injury claim as well as any other work injury claim(s) Employee may have with or against Employer up through and including 4/7/2015. Employee understands that if this Compromise and Release Agreement is approved by the Workers' Compensation Judge, the 8/12/2014 claim is closed forever and can never be reopened in the future even if the alleged work injuries would worsen. Employee and Employer waive all rights under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act to appeal the Final Decision and/or Order of the WCJ approving this Agreement.

App. 31. The District Court rejected Zuber's Motion for Reconsideration, and Zuber filed a timely Notice of Appeal.

         II.Jurisdic ...


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