Not All Family Illnesses Covered By FMLA

Scott Miller is a police officer with the North Little Rock, Arkansas Police Department. On September 12, 2005, Miller contacted his sergeant to advise that he needed to take a “sickness in family” day. Later that same day, the sergeant came to Miller’s house and discovered both Miller and his wife home with their sick child.

Miller reported that the sergeant asked if it took both Miller and his wife to watch the child, pointed out that Miller had used between 14 and 16 sick days that year, and noted that Miller had “left him short” by calling in sick that day. Miller sued the Department, contending that the sergeant’s conduct was “not a permissible action to verify Family and Medical Leave usage.” A federal court dismissed Miller’s FMLA claim.

The Court ruled that Miller “has failed to come forward with the facts to demonstrate that the FMLA is implicated in any form or fashion in this case. Miller sought and was granted pay for leave he took to care for his daughter. Second, even if Miller had sought leave under the FMLA, Miller’s daughter was not suffering from a ‘serious medical condition’ and thus, Miller would not have been entitled to leave under the FMLA. It appears Miller’s daughter was temporarily ill with a common childhood ailment; the FMLA was never intended to provide unpaid leave for such illnesses. Third, Miller failed to provide his employer with notice sufficient to trigger any duty on the part of the Department to inquire further concerning Miller’s need for FMLA leave.”

Miller v. North Little Rock Police Department, 2007 WL 2156404 (E.D. Ark. 2007).

This article appears in the November 2007 issue