Magazine article HRMagazine

Travel with Ill Relative May Be Protected under FMLA

Magazine article HRMagazine

Travel with Ill Relative May Be Protected under FMLA

Article excerpt

Ballard v. Chicago Park District, 7th Cir., No. 13-1445.

An employee accompanying her terminally ill mother on a "bucket list" trip to Las Vegas was entitled to Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

Former Chicago Park District employee Beverly Ballard was the primary caretaker for her mother, Sarah. Ballard lived with her mother, cooked for her, administered her medication, and bathed and dressed her. Facing endstage congestive heart failure, Sarah mentioned that she had always wanted to take a family vacation to Las Vegas, and hospice workers secured funding through a charitable organization serving terminally ill adults.

Ballard took offwork and accompanied her mother on a six-day trip to Las Vegas. Ballard continued to perform her regular caretaking duties during the trip. On one occasion, she drove her mother to the hospital for replacement medications when a fire prevented them from getting to their hotel room, where the medications were stored.

The Chicago Park District terminated Ballard, taking the position that, because the trip was not related to ongoing medical treatment, her absences were not covered under the FMLA's provision allowing employees to take leave "in order to care for" a seriously ill family member. …

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