Toyota Moves to Dismiss Proposed FMLA Class Action, Compel Arbitration

Toyota Motor North American (Toyota) has asked a federal judge to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit over whether the company underestimated employees’ hours to cut down on their entitlement to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Toyota also asked that the judge compel arbitration of the claim, alleging that the plaintiff had signed an arbitration agreement waiving his right to participate in a class action against the company. The case is Bixby v. Toyota Motor North America Inc. et al., case number 2:22-cv-00059, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Employee Adam Bixby filed suit against Toyota in May, claiming that the automaker illegally interfered with his right to leave under the FMLA. He said that Toyota calculated their leave based on 40-hour workweeks rather than including overtime hours that he and other employees were scheduled to work. As a result, Bixby and the other employees earned less leave time.

Bixby has medical conditions that require him to take intermittent FMLA leave. He exhausted his FMLA leave, based on 40-hour workweeks, and became subject to disciplinary action for missing a day of work due to his medical issue.

Bixby also argued that the arbitration agreement that he signed does not prevent him from seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent Toyota from continuing to violate the FMLA. He cites other courts that have granted preliminary injunction requests in cases involving arbitration agreements if the injunctions aided arbitration. Where an arbitration agreement exists, Bixby must show that he and the other employees will suffer irreparable harm if the court does not grant a preliminary injunction.

In response, Toyota argues that Bixby waited over a month from the alleged violation before seeking a preliminary injunction, which does not suggest irreparable harm. Bixby also asked for additional unpaid leave, which the court granted, another indicator of the lack of irreparable harm.

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