March 16, 2017
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.
Counsel for Appellee Alexander W. Ross, Jr., Esq.
Counsel for Amicus Curiae Lawrence R. Chaban, Esq.
Before: GREENAWAY, JR., SHWARTZ, and GREENBERG, Circuit
Greenaway, JR., Circuit Judge.
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.
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.
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unpublished district court decision.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.