The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against a residential care provider for alleged Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") interference. In Smith v. Hope School, Tanum Smith obtained a medical certification from her doctor to support her ongoing absence from work, added (without the doctor's knowledge or approval) the phrase "and previous depression" to the certification, and submitted it to the employer. The employer learned of the alteration, denied the FMLA leave and terminated Smith's employment for unexcused absences.
Smith asserted that the unaltered portions of the certification established her right to FMLA leave, so her termination was unlawful. The court rejected Smith's position: "We are convinced that Smith's proposed rule would have the effect of encouraging applicants to dress up an application for leave by adding non-existent conditions." Thus, Smith was not entitled to FMLA leave and the employer lawfully terminated her employment.