FMLA - marriage counseling

An employee inquired about FMLA leave for counseling (she is in the process of a divorce and stated that is why she needs leave) - does this qualify under FMLA? My thought is this is not a serious medical condition and therefore does not qualify?


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  • A couple of thoughts ...

    What if the employee is suffering from depression and is on medication prescribed by the counselor or her doctor and the sessions are part of her treatment? Do you have a duty to accommodate her under the ADA?

  • Depression CAN be a serious health condition. It depends on how serious the depression is. I don't know that regular visits for therapy necessarily count though. Again, it would depend on the circumstances. You may need to have a 3rd party make the call for you if the answer is not obvious.
  • I agree with the others. We have actually certified depression as being FMLA qualifying in a few instances. When in doubt, do the paperwork.
  • Going to counseling while going through a divorce does not necessarily mean that the individual is clinically depressed and would qualify for FMLA. I have had several employees who have chosen to do counseling during/after particularly messy divorces but they would be the first to tell you that they weren't depressed, they just felt they needed someone neutral to talk to as they sorted things out and moved on to the next phase of their life.

    It could be that this individual doesn't really know enough of the details of FMLA to understand that it pertains to serious illness. The reason I say that is because I have had people ask about it not really understanding that it is supposed to be for serious illnesses; they've thought it should apply to a variety of things it was never intended for, such as counseling.
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