The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a former machine operator’s claim that he was entitled to FMLA leave for time he spent picking up a prescription refill notice at his doctor’s office. Jones v. C&D Techs. Inc. (7th Cir. 2012).
Jones was terminated in accordance with C&D’s points-based attendance policy. Jones periodically saw a doctor for leg pain and anxiety. On the day in question, Jones was approved for FMLA leave for an afternoon doctor’s appointment. Jones, however, failed to come to work as scheduled that morning and instead made an unannounced visit to his doctor’s office to make certain his referral paperwork had been received and to pick up a prescription refill slip. The doctor did not examine him. This absence brought him over the threshold of acceptable points and C&D terminated him.
The Seventh Circuit rejected Jones’s FMLA interference claim because picking up the prescription slip was not “treatment” within the meaning of the FMLA. The court held that Jones’s absence from work was not necessary for his treatment. And, the court found no evidence that Jones was not able to work that morning as scheduled.
This case demonstrates a trend of employers looking more closely at the basis for FMLA absences. Although many absences will be covered, not all will qualify.