Despite many misconceptions that employers may have, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical leave Act to care for a seriously ill son or daughter of any age. For children over 18, the law specifically applies to those “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.”
For an example of what happens when an employer misinterprets the law, consider the following FMLA case:
The Facts of the Case
Deborah Patton was working as an accountant for e-Cardio Diagnostics when her daughter was seriously injured in a car accident, which killed the driver of the vehicle. Patton’s daughter, age 18, was hospitalized in intensive care with two broken legs, a punctured lung, and a punctured bladder.
While Patton was on leave to care for her daughter in the hospital, e-Cardio Diagnostics hired another employee to take her place. It then terminated Patton when she came back to work a week after the accident.
She subsequently filed an FMLA lawsuit, claiming she had been fired despite being eligible for leave under the act. Meanwhile, her employer argued that because her daughter was over age 18, Patton was not entitled to FMLA leave.
The Court’s Decision
The court disagreed. It found that the child’s condition at the time the employee took leave, not before the accident, was the primary issue. In this case, Patton’s daughter was clearly unable to care for herself while in intensive care.
The Message for Employers
As evidenced by this case, when an adult child is badly injured or becomes seriously ill, employers should treat the matter as seriously as any other FMLA request.
Source: Business Management Daily
The Law Office of Beth Lincow Cole is committed to helping employers comply with federal and state employment law and avoid potential business-wrecking lawsuits. If your company needs assistance in drafting, reviewing, or revising its leave policies or guidance regarding an employee leave request, contact employment law attorney Beth Lincow Cole.