Stress Leave?

I have an employee that turned in FMLA papers and verbally stated that she was being taken off for a month due to stress, because we moved her department to another location in the building. First, let me state that she is doing the same job, working with the same people, and only moved around the corner in the exact same building. The only difference is that they were in a room all by themselves, now they are more out in the open, but with their own space. Additionally, she handed her papers in on Tuesday, however her leave does not start until Friday. If she is so stressed, I would think that it would be immediately.

I really want to deny this leave, because I know that this is a completely bogus claim. Also, with her being off for a month, she will be receiving STD, which is why she probably had the duration so long. Could someone please provide any insight on this, especially if you have had previous experience? I don't want any issues with DOL, however I have to find a way to curtail some of the FMLA abuse that is going on in our organization.

Thanks in advance!


  • 2 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • First, don't assume that the move is so minor that it can't be a real claim. People with certain issues migh be unable to cope. This would not be the best method to cope in my mind, but I am not the one making the claim or her doctor.

    Second, her illness must be documented by a health care provider. SOMEONE had to sign the claim. Further, your STD carrier must also process and approve the claim before they will pay.

    Your job is to make sure all the i's are dotted and the t's crossed. Not to make a diagnosis. Having said that, if you really believe the claim is bogus then you are fully within your rights to get a 2nd opinion. You will have to pay for it, and if it differs, you will have to pay for a 3rd. Given the possible costs of a lawsuit, I am not sure it is worth it.

    I think my questions would focus more along the lines of the future. Will she be able to return in a month and work in the new location? Will she require some kind of accomodation? Are you SURE the signing physician is a legitimate one or could someone have faked it (may be better determined by the carrier). Also, does your company pay for the STD insurance, or is it employee paid? If it is employer paid, I might give a heads up to your contact about your concerns on the claim.

    I really feel for you and your frustration. I hope this helps.

    Good luck!
  • Thanks for the reply. I'm not trying to play doctor, however it is quite obvious at work that she is not stressed. She is laughing, playing and joking with her co-workers all day and have not mentioned to her supervisor or human resources about being stressed or having difficulty in her new location. I do think that it is a change that she has to get used to, however being gone is not the answer to it.

    We are moving forward with a second opinion, but my concerns with that is that a stress/anxiety leave is not hard to claim. We work in a medical facility, she is a medical assistant and knows the diagnosis of anxiety, so it's not too far of a stretch for her to fake it.

    I'm not against people taking leave for when things get to be too much for them, but I truly believe this is a case of her taking advantage of a situation and wanting to be off of work... and yes, we do pay the STD for ees.

    Hopefully the second opinion helps. Thanks again.