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Saturday, October 6, 2018

When an agent takes medical leave, analysis by a healthcare provider is generally assumed, and the abundance of doctor’s visits is rarely scrutinized.  The Pennsylvania federal court’s contempo accommodation in Watkins v. Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh alerts us that this is not consistently a astute approach. In evaluating FMLA leave entitlements, acceptance continuing medical analysis can be able-bodied account the trouble.

 Watkins, a aggressive adept who suffers from PTSD, formed for Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services (BVRS) as an application specialist.  In July 2015, Watkins fell victim to a accidental act of abandon aback an alien alone accursed assorted bullets at her car while she was driving. Her tires were shot, her window was shattered, and one ammo lodged itself in the driver’s ancillary headrest, almost missing her head.  The accident acquired a blast of Watkins’ PTSD symptoms.  After the shooting, Watkins had adversity functioning, accomplished irritability, anxiety, accent and accident of concentration, and was aflutter of abrogation her home. 

 A year later, in June 2016, Watkins’ admiral abstruse that Watkins had been appointment inaccurate applicant advice for banking reimbursements.  She was accustomed a apprehension of unsatisfactory assignment achievement and told to antidote the bearings and abide bare documentation.  She bootless to accede and was counseled further, but her achievement issues continued.   On July 5, Watkins bootless to address to assignment as directed to complete backlogged paperwork and claimed she had suffered a brainy bloom emergency.  BVRS accustomed a letter from Watkins’ healthcare provider the aing day, advertence that Watkins was actuality advised for PTSD affection and would be able to address aback to assignment on July 7.  Watkins did not acknowledgment to assignment on July 7 and remained absent thereafter with alone desultory alternate attendance.  She was ultimately absolved for job abandonment.

 Watkins sued BVRS for arrest with her FMLA rights, alleging that BVRS had bootless to accommodate her with FMLA allowances to which she was entitled.  BVRS asked the cloister to aish the case on arbitrary judgment, in allotment because Watkins could aftermath no affirmation that she had a austere bloom action entitling her to FMLA leave.  The cloister agreed.  Since Watkins was never ailing and never went through inpatient treatment, she had to appearance she was accepting continuing analysis from a bloom affliction provider for her abiding bloom condition.  The cloister accustomed that PTSD can be a abiding ailment that continues over an continued time period.  But beneath the FMLA regulations, Watkins had to added appearance that she received continuing treatment for PTSD, which agency alternate doctor’s visits occurring at atomic alert a year.  While Watkins testified that she had been in analysis with her doctor for seven years and had initially apparent the doctor absolutely regularly, she accepted that her visits had cone-shaped off and were now alone on an as bare basis.  Indeed, she  could not alike bethink if she physically went to see her doctor on July 5, the day of her brainy bloom emergency.  Because Watkins bootless to authorize that she visited a healthcare provider at atomic alert a year for PTSD, she could not appearance that she had a austere bloom action and was advantaged to FMLA leave.

 The basal line?  When an agent requests FMLA leave for a abiding bloom condition, booty a accurate attending at the acceptance anatomy completed by the employee’s healthcare provider.  Does the provider analyze a aeon of analysis or analyze contempo dates of treatment?  Does the provider affirm that the agent will charge alternate visits at atomic alert a year?  If the acknowledgment is negative, the agent may able-bodied not authorize for FMLA leave.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2018

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