Employee's FMLA Claim Dismissed After Taking a Trip to Cancun


Employees should think twice before setting off on a Cancun vacation while out on FMLA leave. In an FMLA decision that smacks of pure common sense, a federal court has upheld an employer's reasonable work rules that restricted an employee's travel outside the immediate vicinity while on FMLA leave. Pellegrino v. CWA.

The Facts

Denise Pellegrino, a employee of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), informed CWA that she needed to undergo a hysterectomy. CWA approved Pellegrino for FMLA leave, an absence which ran concurrently with paid sick leave. Shortly thereafter, Pellegrino scheduled her surgery, and both her unpaid FMLA leave and paid sick leave began.

About two weeks after surgery, Pellegrino took off for Cancun, Mexico for one week. Pellegrino did not inform CWA that she would be leaving the country, nor did she request permission to travel. This was significant because CWA's work rules specifically required employees to "remain in the immediate vicinity" of their home while utilizing sick leave, unless they were seeking treatment or attending to "ordinary or necessary activities directly related to personal or family needs." An employee also could leave the immediate vicinity if they received express permission from CWA.

CWA found out about Pellegrino's trip to Cancun and terminated her employment because she traveled to Cancun while on FMLA and disability leave in violation of CWA’s leave policies and work rules.

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Written by:


Franczek Radelet P.C. on:

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