In Graziadio v. Culinary Institute of America, No. 15-888 (2d Cir. Mar. 17, 2016), plaintiff was fired after she took a leave to provide medical care for her sons, and her employer disputed the validity of her leave.  Plaintiff brought suit under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), alleging, among other things, claims against her former company/employer, as well as the company’s Director of Human Resources.  The district court granted summary judgment in favor of all defendants, holding, among other things, that the claims against the HR Director should be dismissed because she was not an “employer” subject to liability under the FMLA.  The Second Circuit reversed.  The court acknowledged that an individual may be held liable under the FMLA only if she is an “employer,” which is defined in the Act to include “any person who acts, directly or indirectly, in the interest of an employer to any of the employees of such employer.”  As a matter of first impression in the Second Circuit, the court held that in deciding the issue, courts should apply the “economic reality” test that courts have applied to determine whether one is an employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Specifically, courts should look to the economic reality presented by the facts of each case to consider whether the person had the power to hire and fire employees, supervised and controlled employee schedules or conditions of employment, determined rate and method of payment, and maintained employment records.  The court emphasized that the alleged employer need not have final authority on these issues, but could be deemed to satisfy these factors if she played an “important role” in those decisions.  Here, although termination authority formally rested with another, there was evidence that the HR Director appeared to have played an important role in the decision to fire plaintiff.  That, coupled with other evidence regarding her job duties, presented sufficient evidence for a rational jury to find that the HR Director exercised sufficient control over plaintiff’s employment to be subject to liability under the FMLA.