NEWS: FMLA NEWS regarding “Needed to Care for” provision

By Rudman Winchell Attorney

 NEWS from the Rudman Winchell Employment and Labor Law Team

By Rudman Winchell Attorney Anne-Marie Storey, Esq.

In the continuing saga of what counts as actions that are covered under the “needed to care for” provision of the federal FMLA, two recent decisions from jurisdictions other than Maine provide some interesting (and comic) relief. In both cases, an employee requested FMLA leave on the basis that they were needed to care for an covered family member with a serious health condition.

The problem in both cases was that neither family supported the employee’s claim. In the first case, from Florida, the employee alleged he needed to stay home and care for his wife who was diagnosed with various ailments including depression and PTSD. In her deposition, however, she testified that she did not need his help generally but even if she did, any such care could be provided outside of his regular work hours, meaning he did not need to take time off from work. In the second case, from Nebraska, the employee alleged he needed FMLA time to care for his father who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. However, the father’s partner testified that he (the father) could take care of himself in his daily activities and in many other actions, including operating a car, going to social and church functions, and even dancing. Needless to say, the employee’s suit was dismissed on summary judgment.

These cases, while perhaps atypical, do emphasize the need for an employer defending a suit based on interference with FMLA leave when an employee claims he/she was needed to care for a family member to pursue the facts behind the claim with the alleged incapacitated family member. You never know what you mind find in the family dynamic!

If you have any questions about these cases or the needed to care for provision of the FMLA, please feel free to call one of our employment team members


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