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Top Medical Leave Lawyer Reply: Can I Attend Family Events Or Vacations While On FMLA?

| Sep 24, 2014 | family medical leave claims, Wrongful Termination |

Best Ohio FMLA Attorney Answer:  What should I do if I was wrongfully fired while on FMLA leave? What is FMLA abuse? I am caring for my youngest child on FMLA, but I have a family obligation to attend out of town, can I still go or will I get in trouble with my boss? Who is the best medical leave law firm in Ohio?

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The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides “eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons for twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth; the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement; to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition; a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job; any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty.”  FMLA was instituted to help employees keep their jobs while recovering from catastrophic illness of their own or for members of their family.  An employee can take FMLA leave on a continuous basis or take FMLA leave intermittently—meaning they may take leave for FMLA when a medical condition requires occasional time off or the family member experiences a relapse in their medical condition.

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As with every right given under the law, there are those who use the law as it was intended and a small group of people who misuse the law for other purposes.  The sole purpose of FMLA is to provide job protected leave to address serious medical issues, not for additional time off for a family vacation or personal leave.  Any other use of FMLA besides medical leave is grounds for an employer to terminate an employee so long as they make a reasonable inquiry into whether or not the employee is abusing the privilege.  FMLA misuse is a hot button issue for many employers because of the need to shift work to other employees while an employee takes protected leave. In the case of Tillman v. Ohio Bell Telephone, Erik Tillman was certified to take FMLA intermittent leave for his back condition and depression.  According to his physician, Tillman’s back condition required him to stay at home, receive cortisone shots, as well as take Oxycodone, a pain medication that impairs motor function. During the time of employment, his supervisors began to notice a pattern with Tillman’s FMLA  leave. Tillman’s request were often planned in advance of his leave dates, and a large amount of his leave dates were on Saturdays along with the week before the New Year’s Eve holiday. Ohio Bell hired a private investigator who took footage of Tillman working on wood trim garage, driving his family around, and having coffee at a local coffee shop. Tillman was terminated by the company and he filed a claim for FMLA retaliation. The court, in its ruling, an employer is not required to use a perfect decision making process, rather “the key inquiry is whether the employer made a reasonably informed and considered decision before taking an adverse employment action.”  In light of the court’s decision in, Tillman, if you are taking FMLA leave for a medical condition, it’s better to err on the side of caution and use the time as it was intended – to recuperate from your medical condition or to care for the serious medical condition of a family member.

But also keep in mind our previous FMLA blog regarding Ballard v. Chicago Park District, in which the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held that the FMLA may allow an employee to travel on vacation with an immediate family member to care for them. In that case, a daughter took FMLA leave to care for her terminal mother. When the mother went to Las Vegas, the Court ruled it was not FMLA abuse for the daughter to follow her there to care for her. Of course, this is starkly different that claiming your own back is a disabling condition and scheduling time off to do manual labor.

If you feel that you are being denied leave rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or are being retaliated against for taking medical leave, you should call the right attorney as quickly as possible to schedule a free and confidential consultation.  The phone number to contact an Ohio attorney for FMLA help is (216) 291-4744.  While you focus on your family medical needs, let our FLMA attorneys focus on your medical leave rights.

Disclaimer:

The materials available at the top of this medical leave page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “how do I get medical leave under the FMLA?”, “what should I do when my job won’t give me medical leave?”, “can my boss deny me medical leave?”, “what should I do if I was fired in retaliation for taking FMLA leave?”, or “is my employer allowed to…?”, your best option is to contact an Ohio medical leave attorney to obtain advice with respect to FMLA questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, LLC, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.