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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Sandra Greenwell worked at the State Farm offices in Monroe, La., from 1984 to April 1, 2003. In June 2001, Darren Gomez served as Greenwell’s supervisor. Gomez eventually left the company and Sherry Griffin became one of two supervisors over Greenwell’s position as a central operations assistant. On June 12, 2002, in a formal written warning to Greenwell, Gomez documented work performance issues relating to lack of availability, dependability, flexibility, teamwork and support of management decisions. Between this date and Aug. 19, 2002, Greenwell received several written evaluations regarding her excessive unprotected absences and intermittent progress towards improving areas of concern. On Sept. 19, 2002, Greenwell received a reminder to give at least 24 hours of prior notice for scheduled time away from the job. Greenwell’s pattern of absenteeism continued, and in response, on Oct. 21, 2002, State Farm suspended her “permission absences” except paid sick leave, paid vacation and paid personal time. The following year, on Jan. 9, 2003, State Farm once again wrote to Greenwell regarding excessive unprotected absences and its decision to continue the suspension of her permission absences. The next month on Feb. 28, 2003, State Farm sent a follow-up memo counseling Greenwell on unprotected absences and requesting immediate improvement. The most pertinent facts underlying this suit occurred on March 31, 2003, when Greenwell unexpectedly missed work without giving State Farm 24 hours of prior notice. Greenwell contended that on this date, she called Griffin to let her know that she needed to stay at home with her son because of an accident. Based on Greenwell’s account, her son injured himself on March 30, 2003, while sliding down a tin barrel into the levee located near the family’s home. This accident temporarily aggravated his chronic asthma condition. In the conversation, Griffin allegedly mentioned FMLA but did not request Greenwell to provide documentation of entitlement under the statute. Greenwell returned to work on the next day and decided to not request FMLA protection for her absence. On either April 1 or April 3, 2003, State Farm terminated Greenwell’s employment with the company. On Nov. 30, 2004, Greenwell filed suit against State Farm claiming violations of FMLA and Title VII. On Dec. 9, 2005, State Farm moved for summary judgment. The district court dismissed with prejudice Greenwell’s Title VII claim. On Greenwell’s FMLA claim, the district court found that a factual dispute existed as to whether Greenwell’s son was suffering from a serious medical condition on March 31, 2003; however, Greenwell failed to provide State Farm with sufficient notice under FMLA. Greenwell timely appealed the district court’s judgment. HOLDING:Affirmed. In the case of foreseeable absences, the court stated that FMLA requires employees to provide an employer with at least 30 days of advance notice. For unforeseeable absences, employees should provide an employer with notice “as soon as practicable under the facts and circumstances of the particular case.” Employees, the court stated, need not expressly assert rights under the FMLA or even mention the FMLA but may only state that leave is needed. The employer will be expected to obtain any additional required information through informal means. The critical question, the court stated, is whether the information imparted to the employer is sufficient to reasonably apprise it of the employee’s request to take time off for a serious health condition. Whereas, the court stated, the employer determines whether an employee’s leave qualifies for FMLA protection, the employee must explain the reasons for the needed leave. In this case, the court stated that even assuming that Greenwell’s son suffered a severe asthma attack and required FMLA-qualifying medical attention on the next day, Greenwell nonetheless failed to provide State Farm with sufficient notice. Greenwell’s decision to not fill out the FMLA form, the court stated, also deprived State Farm of the opportunity to determine that the leave qualifies under FMLA. Accordingly, the court found that Greenwell failed to provide State Farm with sufficient notice of her intention to seek FMLA-qualifying leave during her communications on March 31 and April 1, 2003. OPINION:Stewart, J.; Jones, C.J., and Benavides and Stewart, J.J.

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