For employers, it pays to listen closely to the reason for which an employee requests time off, since the reason may not always be covered by the FMLA. Kind of like occasions when the employee tells you he needs time off to clean his mother’s flooded basement.
Take Joe Lane, a medical technologist for Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital. Joe, who lived with his mother, sought and was granted FMLA intermittent FMLA leave for six months to care for his mom, who suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure, weight loss and arthritis. He needed leave from time to time to provide her food and transport her to doctors’ appointments, which he did without issue for the next four months.
For Joe, when it rains, it pours. Literally. Right into his mother’s basement. Joe was absent for four consecutive days and, in violation of the Hospital’s personnel policies, he failed to call in his absences. Thereafter, he informed the Hospital that he would need additional time off to clean up flooding in his mom’s basement. He claimed that the “flood cleaning days” should be excused because his mother had hepatitis and the stagnant water was a “breeding ground” for the disease. The Hospital disagreed and fired him.
At that moment, Joe’s FMLA claims went down the drain.