Family Medical Leave Act protects woman on Las Vegas vacation, court rules

McAfee’s Josh Cline advises employers to take all FMLA requests seriously, and require medical certification for any leave.
by Paula Burkes Modified: April 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm •  Published: March 31, 2014

Q&A with Josh Cline

Family Medical Leave Act helps

woman on vacation to Las Vegas

Q: I saw that an employee filed a lawsuit against her former employer after she was terminated for taking an unapproved vacation to Las Vegas. How was she successful?

A: The key fact for the appellate court in Ballard v. Chicago Park District was that the employee accompanied and cared for her terminally-ill mother on the trip. Though the employee and her mother spent time participating in typical Las Vegas tourist activities, such as playing slot machines and shopping, and the trip was not for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment, the court determined the employee was entitled to leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Q: How did the FMLA offer protection to the employee in this case?

A: The FMLA allows many employees to take protected leave from work in order to care for a family member with a serious medical condition. The employee in this case lived with her mother and served as her primary caregiver. The court determined that the law is not limited as to the location of such care, reasoning that the mother required her daughter’s care in Las Vegas, just the same as she would at home or elsewhere.

by Paula Burkes
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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