Q & A Session – Refused Sick Leave to Care for Sister


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


I was recently refused sick leave under FMLA to care for my sister who is suffering from breast cancer and severe depression. I have also appealed the refusal to my manager’s supervisor. Can they do this?


“Sister” is not a covered relationship under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). To be covered, the relationship must be a spouse, parent or child. FMLA generally must be requested in advance or if impracticable, within 2 days of returning to work.


Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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  1. The definition of “family member” for sick leave purposes remains unchanged. It includes the following relatives of the employee: (a) spouse and parents thereof; (b) children, including adopted children, and spouses thereof; (c) parents; (d) brothers and sisters, and spouses thereof; and (e) any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. “Serious health condition” has the same meaning as found in OPM’s regulations at 5 CFR 630.1202 for administering the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).

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