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Court Decision Says 'Minor Illnesses' Fall Under FMLA

A district court ruling in Iowa, which in all likelihood will find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, allows for medical leave for minor illnesses. The district court ruled that an employee can get leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for any illness that lasts at least three days and requires treatment by a doctor. The suing employee -- who worked in the shipping and packing department of the Decorah, Iowa, plant of Gemini Inc. -- sued after the company fired her for excessive absences for what the company termed "minor digestive ailments." In ruling that the employee was entitled to leave as well as nearly $50,000 in damages, the court relied on the testimony of the Labor Dept., which said any doctor-treated illness of three days or more is a serious health condition.

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