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FMLA case reversed on appeal

Eligible workers in Pennsylvania and around the country have certain rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Some of them may be interested to learn of a case involving an employee who was denied FMLA leave for an ill grandparent.

According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, a credit union employee who was terminated for taking leave to take care of a hospitalized grandfather has a valid FMLA violation claim. This is because the employer failed to identify the employee's possible entitlement to FMLA leave. The employee had worked at the credit union until Jan. 22, 2013, at which time his grandfather was hospitalized for bronchitis. When the grandfather was released from the hospital on Jan. 23, 2013, the employee determined that the grandfather was gravely ill and decided to stay home until he could obtain home health assistance.

The credit union denied the employee leave on the basis that FMLA was not applicable to the care of a grandparent and advised him to take leave under a separate company policy. The employee had not informed the credit union that his grandfather had raised him after the death of his biological father. The appeals court disagreed with the ruling of the district court that the employee failed to give the credit union sufficient notice of his need for leave. It asserts that the employer should have inquired further when the employee stated he wanted to care for his grandfather.

People should consult with an employment law attorney if they believe their rights under FMLA have been violated. This includes situations in which employees have been discriminated against for taking leave or have not been fully advised if their situation may qualify for FMLA leave.

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