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Miller v. AT&T Corp. - 250 F.3d 820 (4th Cir. 2001)

Rule:

The regulations concerning the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C.S. §§ 2601 through 2654, provide examples, in 29 C.F.R. § 825.114(c), of conditions that ordinarily, unless complications arise, would not meet the regulatory definition of a serious health condition and would not, therefore, qualify for FMLA leave. If, however, any of these conditions met the regulatory criteria for a serious health condition, then the absence would be protected by the FMLA. Complications, per se, need not be present to qualify as a serious health condition if the regulatory tests are otherwise met.

Facts:

AT&T Corporation (AT&T) appealed an order of the district court finding it liable for violating Kimberly Miller's rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 2601- 2654 (West 1999), and awarding back pay and attorneys' fees. With respect to liability, AT&T contended that it did not violate the FMLA because the illness for which Miller sought FMLA leave -- an episode of the flu -- was not a serious health condition as defined by the Act and implementing regulations; that if Miller's flu was a serious health condition under the applicable  regulations, those regulations are contrary to congressional intent and are therefore invalid; and that in any event, Miller failed to comply with AT&T's procedures for the granting of FMLA leave. With respect to the award of back pay, AT&T claims that the award should have been limited by after-acquired evidence and Miller's failure to mitigate her damages.

Issue:

Did AT&T violate Miller’s rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

Miller was incapacitated for more than three consecutive calendar days and received treatment two or more times; thus, she satisfied the regulatory definition of a serious health condition. Thus, the Court concluded that AT&T violated Miller's rights under the FMLA when it denied her request for leave for the December 27- January 1 absence. Miller's flu satisfied the regulatory criteria for a serious health condition, and, while we may question the wisdom of regulations that arguably extend the scope of FMLA coverage beyond what Congress envisioned, we cannot say that the regulations are arbitrary. Additionally, the Court declined to hold that Miller's certification that she suffered from a serious health condition was inadequate because it failed to include information that AT&T did not request. Finally, the Court affirmed the award of back pay, concluding that the award should not be limited by the after-acquired evidence doctrine or by any failure of Miller to mitigate her damages.

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