A man sued his ex-employer after he was terminated for missing work to pick up a prescription and referral paperwork. He claimed the errands should count as part of his intermittent FMLA leave. Did he win?
Here’s the scene:
While working for C&D Technologies in Attica, Indiana, Robert Jones experienced periodic leg and back pain that need treatment for which he was granted intermittent FMLA leave.
C&D had an attendance policy that assigned points to unapproved absences:
- if an employee missed four hours of a shift he/she was assigned one point
- employees missing less than four hours were assigned one half of a point, and
- failing to report an absence within 30 minutes of the start of a shift earned an employee one half of a point.
Jones had accumulated 2.5 points prior to the morning of Oct. 1, 2009. That day he missed work to make an unscheduled visit to his doctor’s office to confirm he’d received a proper referral to a clinic and to pick up a prescription note. Later that day he drove to the clinic for a scheduled afternoon appointment.
C&D knew about the afternoon appointment and granted Jones FMLA leave to attend. But it had not approved the time off to visit his doctor to pick up a prescription note and referral paperwork. So it assessed him one half of a point (whether or not he reported the absence within 30 minutes of when his shift was supposed to start was up for debate, but it didn’t matter).
Since Jones had accumulated three points under C&D’s attendance policy, he was terminated.
He then sued C&D claiming his receipt of the prescription counted as medical treatment under the FMLA.
Wasn’t medical treatment under FMLA
The court shot down Jones’ argument.
It said that being on prescription medicine can be a regimen of continuing treatment under the FMLA.
But the court ruled Jones’ visit to the doctor to pick up a prescription note didn’t count as receiving treatment. So that part of his absence was not protected under the FMLA.
His termination stood.