Who counts as a 'family member' under FMLA?

A recent court ruling expands the list of reasons employees can take leave under FMLA.
The case involved an employee who lived with his daughter and granddaughter.
The daughter, a single mother, was both a student and a member of the Army Reserve. Given her busy schedule, the employee often took care of the child when her mother was at school or away during weekends for training.
The granddaughter became ill and needed care, and the employee asked for FMLA leave. He was turned down and sued.
The company tried to get the case thrown out, arguing that the employee wasn’t entitled to leave since the law lets employees take leave to care for their own children.
But the court let the suit proceed, saying the man acted “in loco parentis” — he performed the duties of a parent so he was entitled to leave as a parent would have been.
Who is a parent?
FMLA gives parents leave to care for their children, but how is the parent-child relationship defined? According to the law, “child” means “a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.”
According to the court, “in loco parentis” (literally, “in place of a parent”) refers to someone who “has put himself in the situation of a lawful parent by assuming the obligations incident to the parental relation without going through the formalities necessary to legal adoption.”
In this case, the employee met those requirements.
Cite: Martin v. Brevard County Public Schools

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