There’s not a lot of humor to be found in employment law, let alone the Family and Medical Leave Act. But these cases should be good for a chuckle.
The first comes from Florida, where Biljana Pivac worked as a warehouse clerk for Componenet Services & Logistics, Inc.
Pivac was fond of using her personal leave time and had gotten in trouble already for attendance issues when she was denied a personal day because she had no personal or vacation time left.
Pivac then requested FMLA leave to go visit her parents in Yugoslavia because — get this — they were old. The HR director at the firm told Pivac that was no reason to take FMLA leave, though the director did instruct her on how to take FMLA leave for stress she also said she was having.
Pivac went to a doctor, who gave her no treatment, no referrals, no medicine and no further appointments, though he did give her a two-week “medically excused absence” form.
Pivac then took those two weeks off — without ever filling out any FMLA paperwork for her company. She was immediately terminated upon her return.
Pivac sued, but the court had a great time denying her claims of FMLA abuse:
The substance of the Plaintiff’s “evidence” is that she felt maybe overworked and wanted time off, first to visit her parents, but then just because she was crying and sad. There is absolutely no evidence presented by the Plaintiff that she met the definition of “serious medical condition” at the time she took the extended unpaid leave. There are no medical records submitted, no indication of continuing treatment at the time of the Plaintiff’s being out of work from the 4th to the 17th of October of 2011, no evidence, other than the Plaintiff’s conclusory statements, that she suffered depression and anxiety as chronic health conditions. In fact, the only thing the Plaintiff has established is that she told the doctor she did not feel like working and he gave her a note to excuse her from working.
Breaking news: You need a real reason to take FMLA leave. Imagine that.
The case is Pivac v. Component Services and Logistics.
FMLA abuse at its finest
The second case involves a particularly ridiculous case of FMLA abuse.
Robert Dietrich, who worked as an operating room technician for Susuehanna Valley Surgery Center, suffered from hemophilia. The company allowed him to take time off to handle complications from the disease.
Dietrich also ran a landscaping business on the side and was in the process of installing a patio at one of the surgery center’s doctor’s houses when he called out of work due to an “internal bleed” on a Monday and Tuesday.
That Wednesday, he also failed to go to work, though he did go to the doctor’s house to work on the patio. (Dietrich said he didn’t actually do any work and that he only supervised another employee.)
When the company found out, it fired him.
He sued, but the court wasn’t having any of it:
Any employee, regardless of his or her disability or lack thereof, might reasonably expect their employer to take disciplinary action if he or she is absent from work and found to be instead engaging in some other side business. This is especially true if the employee failed to notify his or her employer of the impending absence.
Note to stupid employees: If you’re going to play hooky, don’t do so at a co-worker’s house.
The case is Dietrich v. Susquehanna Valley Surgery Center.