Maria worked for Big Business, Inc. and qualified for FMLA leave. Her husband, George, suffered from serious medical conditions, and Maria looked after him, transporting him to medical appointments, cooking for him, giving him his medications, helping him move about, and providing psychological support for him. Big Business had consistently approved FMLA leave requests for Maria of one or two days when she had to do something to assist George. On May 10, Maria requested FLMA leave from June 15 to July1 to assist George in traveling, though she did not specify the reason for the travel. The reason for the travel was to make a pilgrimage to a religious site that was thought to provide healing powers. George did not receive any recognized medical treatment during that pilgrimage, though Maria did assist him in moving around and in giving him his medications.
On June 1, when Big Business requested certification from George's doctors that he would receive necessary medical treatment during his travels, George's doctors responded on June 16 that they were not scheduled to provide any medical treatment to George between June 15 and July 1 and that they had no information that George would receive any medical treatment during his travels. Big Business attempted to call Maria on June 16 when they received the information from the doctors to tell her that the FMLA leave request was not granted, but they were not able to reach Maria since she and George had already left on the pilgrimage.
Since the FMLA leave was not granted and since Maria was absent from work from June 15 to July 1, Big Business terminated her. Was Maria entitled to the FMLA leave that she requested? Did Big Business violate Maria's rights in terminating her?
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The Family Medical Leave Act was enacted in 1993 with the focus being on medical leave taken to care for a child or birth of a child. The FMLA now includes other immediate family relationships within the scope of circumstances that someone may be eligible to take time off from work to care for their family member, reducing the stress of worrying if there is a job to return to or not. 1
To be eligible for FMLA coverage, several conditions apply, including deadlines in communication that both the employee and company are required to adhere to. As often happens, when there are several people involved in a process, it only takes one participant "dropping the ball" to cause a large degree of turmoil for everyone involved.
Maria had been caring for her husband for a while; Big Business had consistently improved the time Maria needed, a day or two here and there. FMLA time ...
The FMLA guidelines, and a scenario are illustrated in the solution.