A recent case involving a nurse with debilitating migraine headaches shows how important it is that individuals understand how the Federal Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, works. The woman in question was suffering from headaches so severe that it prevented her from doing her job. After her employer, a hospital, noticed the amount of time she was taking off work, they suggested that she go on intermittent FMLA leave.
The hospital created a protocol in which the employee would advise one of her colleagues when she had to leave her duties, and the woman stated that she agreed with and understood both the accommodation and her responsibilities. Several months after being exercising her FMLA rights, the nurse abandoned her duties without telling anyone and left a pregnant patient unattended. She was found asleep in a nearby room.
The woman was terminated by the hospital for not advising anyone that she was leaving her duties and for creating a potentially unsafe situation for a patient. When the woman sued the hospital for her termination, the case was dismissed because the hospital had approved all of her previous FMLA requests, and they had suggested that she take advantage of FMLA.
Medical leave exists so that people can take care of themselves or their close family. This is a federal law, so as long as the organization a person works for has at least 50 employees, people have the right to take this time off 12 weeks every year without having to worry about repercussions. However, it is important that individuals understand how FMLA works, and a lawyer could possibly explain how to take advantage of it.