Court Defines “Overnight Stay” for FMLA Purposes

Under the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) an employee with a “serious health condition” may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and reinstatement when leave expires.  The regulations for the FMLA define a “serious health condition” as including a situation where an employee has received “inpatient care,” which means “an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility.”  Last week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the question of what qualifies as an “overnight stay” for purposes of coverage under the FMLA.  The Court held that an “overnight stay” means a stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility “for a substantial period of time from one calendar day to the next calendar day as measured by the individual’s time of admission and his or her time of discharge.”  Based on this definition, the plaintiff-employee did not have a “serious health condition” because he was admitted and discharged on the same calendar day.  And, without a “serious health condition,” the plaintiff-employee did not have a basis to assert claims under the FMLA.  Employers should always carefully review documentation provided by employees in connection with medical leave (including admission and discharge information).  http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/141239p.pdf

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