Nevada man who wins case at high court wants state job back

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- A month after beating the state of Nevada in the U.S. Supreme Court, a Nevada man wants his state job back.

Williams Hibbs of McGill in eastern Nevada said he's ready to settle his case against state officials who fired him for taking time off to care for his injured wife.

In a May 27 ruling, the court preserved the broad protection Congress mandated in the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees workers will not lose their jobs if they take limited time off to deal with family emergencies.

The court returned Hibbs' case to a lower court. If he wins he would be eligible for back pay to 1997.

"He'd like to see the end of this and get back on his feet," said his lawyer, Treva Hearne. "Anything the state wants to do, I'm sure he would be delighted."

Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval said he's open to settlement offers, though he's inclined to argue the case in court.

"We still feel the state complied in all aspects of the Family and Medical Leave Act," Sandoval told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "The state is prepared to present our case in court, but we're willing to consider a settlement if offered."

Hibbs was fired in a dispute over how much leave he could take to care for his wife, who was badly hurt in a car accident.

He sued in federal court, claiming the state did not give him his full 12 weeks of family leave as required under the 1993 federal law.

The Supreme Court ruled that nearly 5 million people who work for state governments have the same rights as private employees under the law.

The 6-3 ruling was a departure from the conservative-led court's march to expand the rights of states at the expense of federal control.

The $1 million the state must pay the Washington, D.C.-based lawyers who argued the case before the high court would be waived if the state settles out of court, Hearne said.

Hibbs said the state would waste taxpayer dollars if it goes to trial.

"The state has no defense," he said, adding he would be interested in a job as a social worker at Ely State Prison.


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