FMLA Leave for Workers With Chronic Illness: Verifying Medical Treatment, Avoiding Abuse

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will guide counsel for employers on how to handle FMLA leave for workers with chronic illness. The panel will discuss how to scrutinize the FMLA certification form completed by the employee's healthcare provider, as well as best practices for verifying continuing medical treatment.


Chronic illnesses are those lasting a year or more, and statistics indicate that a significant number of U.S. workers have at least one chronic ailment. Chronic illness presents unique challenges when managing the associated FMLA leave, and employers must understand how to manage FMLA questions involving reduced schedule or intermittent leave.

For a medical issue to qualify as a chronic condition under the FMLA, an employee must seek treatment from a healthcare provider at least two times per year; must continue over an extended period, including recurrent episodes of a single underlying condition; and can cause episodic rather than continuing incapacity, such as fibromyalgia, migraines, asthma, or diabetes.

When an employee takes medical leave, employers may assume that the employee is undergoing treatment by a healthcare provider; employers rarely scrutinize the frequency of doctor visits. However, when evaluating FMLA leave entitlements, verifying continuing medical treatment is worth the trouble, particularly since intermittent FMLA leave often raises concerns about how to avoid abuse.

Listen as our panel guides employment counsel on how to manage FMLA leave for workers with chronic illnesses. The panel will discuss how to analyze FMLA certification forms, request medical records, and protect against leave abuse without violating the FMLA.



  1. Overview of chronic illnesses under the FMLA
  2. Verifying continuing medical treatment for FMLA leave
  3. Analysis of recent court decisions regarding FMLA leave for chronic illnesses
  4. Best practices for employers in handling intermittent and reduced-schedule leave for chronic illnesses


The panel will review these and other relevant topics:

  • How is "chronic illness" defined under the FMLA?
  • What documentation must be provided by workers taking leave for a chronic illness?
  • Specific information the employer should look for if using forms from the DOL's Wage and Hour Division
  • How do courts view the issue of FMLA leave for chronic illnesses?
  • How can employers protect against FMLA leave abuse by workers with chronic illness?


Conley, Jeanine
Jeanine Conley Daves

Office Managing Shareholder
Littler Mendelson

Ms. Conley Daves has represented many of the nation’s leading companies in employment-related disputes and...  |  Read More

Kopp, Jeffrey
Jeffrey S. Kopp

Foley & Lardner

Mr. Kopp focuses on labor and employment and commercial litigation, and a variety of emergency and other injunctive...  |  Read More

Rawitt, Stephanie
Stephanie K. Rawitt

Clark Hill

Ms. Rawitt provides legal services and advice on employment matters to a variety of clients including hospitals,...  |  Read More

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