Nevada Dep’t of Human Resources v. Hibbs

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Nevada Dep’t of Human Resources v. Hibbs
Court U.S. Supreme Court
Citation 538 U.S. 721 (2003)
Date decided 2003


Congress enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 which entitled eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave annually for any of several reasons, including the onset of a serious health condition of an employee’s spouse, child, or parent. The Act created a private right of action in both equitable relief and money damages against any employer violating this act. In this case, the State of Nevada violated the act.


Whether Congress acted within its constitutional authority when it sought to abrogate the States’ immunity for purposes of the FMLA’s family-leave provision.


Employees of the State of Nevada may recover money damages in the event of the State’s failure to comply with the family-care provision of the act.

The States’ record of unconstitutional participation in, and fostering of gender-based discrimination in the administration of leave benefits is weighty enough to justify the enactment of prophylactic § 5 legislation.


For a gender-based classification to withstand scrutiny, it must serve important governmental objectives and the discriminatory means employed must be substantially related to the achievement of those objectives.



The evidence fails to document a pattern or unconstitutional conduct sufficient to justify the abrogation of States’ sovereign immunity.