Democrats urge high court to uphold state workers' right to sue over medical leave

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"People facing serious health problems need to be able to take time off to recuperate without worrying about losing their jobs," Senate Health Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the Supreme Court could undermine this important protection for millions of state workers. That is not what we intended in passing this landmark law."

Harkin signed onto an amicus brief in the case earlier this year, along with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers. The brief argues that Congress intended the entire act to apply to state employees, that its provisions were within the power of Congress and that all workers should have the ability to enforce their rights in court.

"If denied the law's protection, countless workers would be put in the impossible position of choosing between keeping their jobs or dealing with a serious health condition. Americans shouldn’t have to make that choice," Miller, the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said in a statement Wednesday. "Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act after carefully considering decades of evidence of discrimination by both private and governmental employers against men and women with serious health conditions or with sick family members. The Court has already upheld Congress' authority to provide protections for these workers and should do so again."