I have an employee who has started calling in with depression issues. Unsure if the ee is seeing a doctor yet, but I see depression as a gray area when it comes to FMLA and ADA. Any advise/suggestions from on how to proceed?

My initial intention is to start down the FMLA road to get more information from her doctor to help make the call.


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  • Careful here. Is the employee calling it Depression or others (you). Consider it like a fever or a cold until the employee labels it something else. Then have medical substantiation the same as you would for any illness. Sadness and melancholy is one thing but true depression is a serious illness. The thing is, depressed people can be the last ones to know.
  • The employee is calling it depression - for clarification.
  • If the absences have met the minimum requirements for FMLA, and the employee is otherwise qualified, give them the paperwork. Both the employee and the employer need to be protected. The paperwork is the first step.
  • In October of last year we ran an article in HR Hero Line about a case from the Eighth Circuit that talked about exactly this issue. The analysis backs up what everyone has said in this thread.


    Hope it helps.

  • I would also, like Nae, start with the paperwork. See what the physician's certification has to say. We currently have 2 employees on FMLA for this very issue....I DEFINITELY feel your pain on this's been a nightmare.
  • I have a similar situation and I'm not sure what to do. This employee has expressed that he is depressed and (from the perspective of someone who is not a medical professional) certainly displays signs of being depressed or melancholy (I realize these are two different things). The employee is not asking for time off due to his emotional distress, but it is starting to negatively impact his performance, and we're not sure where to go from here. What should we do - is it an FMLA issue if he's not asking for time off due to this reason?
  • Address the performance issues as you would any other employee. If the employee brings up the depression as an explanation or defense, then you can offer an EAP and/or FMLA. Many employees feel they just have to tough it out and won't automatically seek help. If they see you are taking their work performance seriously, they will be more motivated to get the help they need.

    Somestimes being sympathetic can backfire. My boss was wonderful when I lost my mom two years ago, but we are still feeling the repercussions of my inability to think clearly then. I believe we all (both personally and professionally) would have been better off if my boss had been a bit tougher on me then. I guess after working with me over 20 years she figured she just needed to give me time. It worked, but as I said, I am still finding errors I made during that period. Sigh. I HATE walking around with my face red all day. ::angryface::
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