Family Medical Leave Act clarified for parents of disabled adult children

Kathy Neal, a labor and employment attorney with McAfee & Taft, discusses FMLA benefits and the expanded definition of a disabled adult child.
by Paula Burkes Published: April 4, 2013
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This is where things get complicated. While pregnancy itself is not a disability under the ADA, pregnancy-related impairments, such as gestational diabetes, may be disabilities if they substantially limit a major life activity. The focus turns to whether the adult child is “incapable of self-care” because of his or her disability. FMLA regulations look to whether the individual requires active assistance or supervision to provide daily self-care in three or more of the “activities of daily living” or “instrumental activities of daily living.” These include bathing, dressing, eating, grooming and hygiene, cooking, cleaning, shopping, maintaining a residence and the like. Here, the bed rest resulting from gestational diabetes complications meets the test.

Additionally, the employer must determine whether the adult child has a “serious medical condition,” which the FMLA defines as an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that requires inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider. For practical purposes, many impairments will satisfy both the ADAAA's expanded definition of disability and the FMLA's definition of a serious health condition. In our example, gestational diabetes likely will meet both definitions.

Q: What determines whether an employee is “needed” to care for an adult child?

A: Generally speaking, if an adult child of an employee is considered disabled and unable to care for his own basic medical, hygienic or nutritional needs, that employee should be considered “needed” to provide care.

PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER

by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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