Administering leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can create challenges for an employer, especially when the employer suspects that the leave is being abused.
A recent Massachusetts state court ruling reinstated a jury verdict in favor of an employee who was fired for vacationing while on FMLA leave. There, the court found that where the employee was spending his FMLA leave was not dispositive, since there was no evidence to show that what he was doing on vacation was inconsistent with the stated need for leave.
More recently, and in contrast to that ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found that an employer did not violate the FMLA by firing an employee for abusing his approved intermittent leave for an unapproved purpose, namely, playing golf.
Ruling in LaBelle v. Cleveland Cliffs, No. 18-2444 (6th Cir. September 13, 2019), the appeals court concluded that even if it credited the plaintiff’s contention that the serious health condition for which he requested intermittent leave did not affect his ability to play golf, “[he] did not take FMLA leave for flare-ups or medical appointments,” which was the stated purpose for his being approved for intermittent leave.
A copy of the court’s decision is available here.
Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.