Can I Use FMLA Leave for Depression? By Dan Atkerson on August 24, 2020

Family Medical Leave Act

FMLA, or the Family Medical Leave Act, is a federal law that protects employees from being fired or otherwise punished for taking legally protected time off work. The FMLA gives employers time off to deal with a serious health condition or to assist family members with medical issues.

Many employees are uncertain whether mental health issues such as depression are covered by the FMLA. FMLA attorney Dan A. Atkerson can help individuals in Allen, TX, Plano, TX, Frisco, TX, and surrounding areas understand how FMLA leave pertains to depression and what they can do if their employment rights have been violated.

Does FMLA Apply to Mental Health Issues?

The FMLA was passed in 1993 to provide workers in the United States with certain employment protections. Specifically, the FMLA allows employees a certain amount of time off work to deal with medical issues - either their own or those of members of their family. FMLA pertains to a comprehensive range of medical problems, including mental health issues such as depression.

FMLA Guidelines

Before applying for FMLA leave, employees should know exactly what the law provides them. Under the guidelines of the FMLA, workers are entitled to:

  • Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (this would usually kick in after any earned paid time off was exhausted)
  • Continued health benefits while on leave
  • Return to the same job or an equivalent position upon completion of the leave

FMLA Limitations

FMLA leave allows workers to address medical issues without fear of losing their job. As beneficial as FMLA leave can be, though, there are some limitations that employees should be aware of:

  • FMLA is only required of employers with 50 or more employees, though smaller businesses can offer FMLA leave if they choose
  • FMLA is usually only available to workers who have a minimum of 12 months of employment with the company
  • If possible, employees are usually asked to give a 30 day notice prior to taking FMLA

In regards to addressing depression or other mental health issues, employees should be aware that employers have the right to request documentation of their mental illness, which can be provided by a doctor or therapist. Legally, employers cannot discriminate against an employee for reasons pertaining to health status or mental illness. Unfortunately, that doesn mean that discrimination doesn’t ever happen.

What To Do If Your Rights Have Been Violated

Despite FMLA protections, there are still employers who violate an employee’s rights either by:

  • Denying a request for legally protected FMLA leave
  • Failing to hold the employee’s position (or an equivalent position) while they are on leave
  • Discriminating against the employee based on their health status

If an individual believes that their rights have been violated, they should discuss their concerns with a knowledgeable FMLA attorney, such as Dan A. Atkerson. Attorney Atkerson can advise you of your legal options, which may include filing a lawsuit to pursue financial compensation for losses related to the violation.

Learn More

If you have more questions about FMLA leave, or are interested in filing a legal claim, attorney Dan A. Atkerson would be happy to meet with you. Send us a message at your earliest convenience to schedule a personal consultation, or call (214) 383-3606.

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