No Serious Health Condition Means No FMLA Claim

Last week, a federal judge in Ohio threw out the Family and Medical Leave Act interference and retaliation claims of a fired FedEx courier, Cherie Budy, holding the employee failed to establish a serious health condition under the law.

The plaintiff, whom FedEx terminated for poor attendance and excessive tardiness, claimed that her work absences should have been allowed as intermittent FMLA leave. However, the court observed that the plaintiff could not establish the existence of a serious health condition either through inpatient care or continuing treatment as required by the Act.

The court also noted that in calling her employer and merely stating that she was too unwell to get out of bed, Budy failed to put FedEx on notice that she suffered from a potentially FMLA-qualifying condition.

Finally, FedEx offered a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for Budy’s termination, the court held. Budy had a long disciplinary history stemming from her repeated tardiness and failure to clock out at the end of shifts.

This case reminds employers to ensure that employees satisfy the technical definition of “serious health condition” whenever FMLA abuse is suspected. While studies show HR professionals consistently find FMLA challenging to administer, MSEC can help you achieve the best possible outcomes.