FMLA: Is Postoperative Care Considered a Serious Health Condition?

Leave Management

Career / Leave Management 169 Views 0

As employers are well aware, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take leave for qualifying serious health conditions. In a recent decision, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals—which covers Connecticut, New York, and Vermont—highlighted the need for employers to be more inquisitive—and perhaps more expansive—when determining whether a condition is a “serious health condition.”


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“Nia” was employed by the New York Methodist Hospital as a medical records file clerk, a job that required standing and walking for extended periods. Sometime during her employment, she noticed a benign soft tissue mass growing on her left foot that became increasingly painful and limited her ability to perform her job. She declined conservative care and instead elected to have her podiatrist surgically remove the mass a couple of weeks later.

Nia requested FMLA leave for her surgery and postoperative recovery. Despite her podiatrist’s certification of a “serious health condition,” the hospital denied her request because she failed to comply with its FMLA policy requiring 30 days’ advance notice for FMLA leave. Nia went forward with surgery and missed work, resulting in the termination of her employment because of an alleged unauthorized absence.

Nia sued

Read from Leave Management, Policy, and Compliance – HR Daily Advisor