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Nurse Terminated for Passing Out Due to Migraine While Delivering Baby

Jodi Lasher was a registered nurse for over thirty years, working at Medina Hospital since June 2013 as a staff nurse. Among other duties, Jodi was responsible for monitoring pregnant mothers’ vital signs and contractions, and babies’ fetal heart rates. 

Lasher also suffered from chronic migraines, causing her throbbing pain, visual auras, nausea and dizziness, causing some unexcused absences. Seeing a connection, Medina affirmatively engaged with Lasher about certifying her for intermittent leave to care for Lasher’s medical condition under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

The plan worked for a while, until one fateful night when Lasher experienced a visual aura that escalated to nausea then a full migraine, hours later. Lasher felt “hot and flushed and dizzy” and had to leave a patient in labor, escaping to an empty adjacent room without warning. Lasher fell unconscious soon after. During that time, at one point, the woman’s contractions stopped, a cause for concern. 

After the incident, Lasher took days off to care for her medical condition, not returning her supervisor’s calls and emails to talk. When Lasher was able to meet with Medina, Medina terminated her for sleeping on the job while caring for a patient. 

Lasher sued Medina under the FMLA for retaliation for seeking medical leave, and for interference with her ability to take a second medical leave after the incident. 

The Court found Medina’s reason for terminating Lasher’s employment to be legitimate. This wasn’t a smokescreen for bias, the Court held, because Medina “initiated discussions with [Lasher] about accommodating her health condition” and certified her for FMLA intermittent leave before the incident occurred. Lasher’s retaliation claim failed. 

Lasher’s claim of interference under the FMLA was also unsuccessful. Lasher argued that because Medina knew about her medical condition and knew that Lasher left work after the incident because of that condition, Medina was on notice of Lasher taking FMLA leave. Not so. 

“The FMLA does not require [Medina] to assume that the ‘illness’ that caused [Lasher] to leave her patient and lie down on the bed in a dark, unused room across the hall stemmed from an FMLA-qualifying medical condition.” Lasher’s interference claim failed as well. [Lasher v. Medina Hospital (USDC NDOH 2016) no. 15-CV-00005]