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7th Circuit affirms summary judgment for employer in FMLA suit

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An employer was within its rights to terminate an employee who attempted to take off work under the Family and Medical Leave Act but then sought no treatment, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

Judge William T. Lawrence granted summary judgment in favor of the employer in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

In Robert Jones v. C&D Technologies, 11-3400, Robert Jones appealed the finding for the employer in Attica, where he had worked for six years as a machine operator. The company had a system in which workers were assessed half-points or full points for unexcused absences longer than 30 minutes. An employee with three or more points in a four-month period was subject to termination.

On Oct. 1, 2009, Jones missed work to go to a doctor’s appointment. Jones and the company dispute whether Jones requested FMLA leave for the entire day or just for the time needed for his appointment. Jones also said he left a voice mail about missing work that day, which C&D disputes.

Jones had accumulated at least three points in the quarter, and he was suspended the day after his medical appointment and fired within a week.

The District Court held that while Jones obtained refills of prescription medication for anxiety and leg pain during his day off, he was not entitled to FMLA leave because he did not receive treatment during his absence. The 7th Circuit agreed.

“Taking prescription medicine is not indicative of whether an employee receives treatment that prevents” performing a job, Circuit Judge Michael Kanne wrote. “Many chronic conditions require a course of prescription medication, but the FMLA requires something more for an employee to become entitled to leave — inability to perform … job functions.”


 

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