An employee’s taking a morning off to make an unannounced visit to his physician’s office to get a prescription refill and confirm that referral paperwork for an appointment that afternoon had been completed was not protected by the FMLA because the visit was not “treatment” for a serious health condition, the Seventh Circuit has held. Robert Jones v. C&D Technologies, Inc. (7th Cir. June 28, 2012).  During the morning visit, the physician did not examine or evaluate the employee. 

The morning absence, when combined with other absences, led to plaintiff’s termination under his employer’s policy.  In affirming summary judgment for the employer, the court rejected plaintiff’s arguments that his receipt of the prescription refill note was “medical treatment” under the FMLA.  The court stated that being on a “course of prescription medication” is a “regimen of continuing treatment,” which is relevant in determining whether someone has a serious health condition. However, for leave to be protected by the FMLA, the “regimen of continuing treatment” must prevent the employee from performing his job, which was not the case here, the court said.

We had previously written about a son who took time off to prepare breakfast for his mom and dress her to take her to a doctor’s appointment. The court there held that the activities preceded the doctor’s visit were not protected by the FMLA because the mother could have fed and dressed herself. These cases provide guidance to an employer looking to ensure that FMLA is used for its intended purpose and only for its intended purpose.