Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett discussed a case currently under review by the Eleventh Circuit Court that should provide clarity on whether, and under what circumstances, a licensed professional counselor or therapist can be a “healthcare provider” – and therefore qualified to verify a need for leave – under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The case centers around an employee who was fired from her job the same day she met with a licensed counselor who recommended leave after determining the employee had depression and anxiety. While the timing and specific circumstances of the case are unusual, the case does call into question the larger issue of who can be considered a healthcare provider under the FMLA.
As Tim points out, “Employers face a tension between granting leave for employees who need it and preventing others from taking unfair advantage of FMLA or other leave programs.” However, Tim adds, “I think in today’s culture, employers are being a bit more lenient. We’re seeing more and more instances of people struggling with their mental health.”
The full article, “Eleventh Circuit Weighs Therapist Visits to Justify Worker Leave,” was published by Bloomberg Law on July 23, 2019, and is available online.