Wagner Header

The Wagner Law Group Description 

The Wagner Law Group, A Professional Corporation, is a nationally recognized ERISA & employee benefits, estate planning, employment, labor & human resources practice. 


Established in 1996, The Wagner Law Group has 23 attorneys engaged exclusively in employee benefits, estate planning and employment law. Seven of our attorneys are AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell as having very high to preeminent legal abilities and ethical standards. The firm is among the largest ERISA boutiques in the country. Our practice is national in scope, with clients in more than 40 states and several foreign countries.






Contact Info

The Wagner Law Group


  Integrity | Excellence


Massachusetts Office 

Tel: (617) 357-5200 

Fax: (617) 357-5250 

99 Summer Street 

13th Floor

Boston, MA 02110

Florida Office 

Tel: (561) 293-3590
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Suite 125
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418


San Francisco Office

Tel: (415) 625-0002

Fax: (415) 358-8300

315 Montgomery Street

Suite 904

San Francisco, CA 94104







February 6, 2014


 State and Federal Law Alert





FMLA Covers Vacations with Terminally Ill Relatives




The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that an employee is entitled to unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") when the employee requests leave to provide physical and psychological care for a terminally ill parent who is travelling away from home.


In Ballard v. Chicago Park District, the employee's mother was diagnosed with end-stage congestive heart failure, after which she began to receive hospice care. With the assistance of a social worker at the hospice, the employee received a grant to take her mother on an end-of-life trip to Las Vegas.


The employee next requested unpaid FMLA leave, so that she could travel with her mother to Las Vegas to provide basic care and support. (Under the FMLA, employees are entitled to leave "in order to care for" a family member with a "serious health condition.") The employer denied the employee's request for FMLA leave. Nevertheless, the employee travelled with her mother to Las Vegas and, several months later, the employer terminated the employee because of the unauthorized absences that accumulated during her trip.


After being terminated, the employee sued, claiming her FMLA rights had been denied. The employer asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the FMLA did not apply in this situation because the employee did not provide care for her mother in Las Vegas since she was already being provided with the necessary care at home.


In ruling in favor of the employee, the Seventh Circuit said that the geographical location where care for a seriously ill family member is provided does not have any bearing on whether the employee has the right to FMLA-protected leave.


The employer also asserted that the employee's trip to Las Vegas was not covered by the FMLA because the leave did not involve medical treatment. Once again the Seventh Circuit disagreed, finding that the word "treatment" does not appear anywhere in the FMLA's relevant provisions. The court added that "the FMLA speaks in terms of basic medical, nutritional and hygienic needs - needs that, as in this case, do not change merely because a person is not undergoing active medical treatment."


The Seventh Circuit's holding in Ballard confirms that employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA to provide physical or psychological care for a seriously ill spouse, child or parent - regardless of the geographic location where the care will be rendered. 




This Newsletter is protected by copyright. Material appearing herein may be reproduced with appropriate credit.


Pursuant to Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we hereby inform you that any advice set forth herein with respect to US federal tax issues is not intended or written by The Wagner Law Group to be used and cannot be used, by you or any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code.


This Newsletter is provided for information purposes by The Wagner Law Group to clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter, and may not be relied upon as specific legal advice.  This material is not to be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. Under the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered advertising.