Does time spent handling medical paperwork, refilling prescription qualify for FMLA leave?


Robert, a machine operator at your plant, suffered from a serious health condition involving continuing treatment, and he was certified to take intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). One day, he missed work when he went to his doctor’s office to request a records transfer and a prescription refill. That absence caused him to exceed the limit allowed under the attendance policy, and he was terminated for excessive absenteeism. Robert filed suit, claiming that your company interfered with his FMLA rights. Will he succeed?


Not likely. In a case with similar facts, the Seventh Circuit held that activities, such as handling medical paperwork and picking up a prescription refill, did not constitute “treatment” that prevented the employee from performing his job duties.

While a course of prescription medicine is evidence that an employee suffers from a serious medical condition requiring continuing treatment, taking prescription medicine is not indicative of whether an employee receives treatment preventing him from performing his job. Many chronic conditions require a course of prescription medication, the court noted, but the FMLA requires something more for an employee to become entitled to leave — the inability to perform job functions.

Because the employee’s actions at the doctor’s office — where the doctor never evaluated or examined him — did not constitute treatment, he was not entitled to FMLA leave on that day.

Source: Jones v. C&D Technologies, Inc. (7thCir 2012) 684 F.3d 673.

[ Return to top of document ]