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Mental Health Issues in the Workplace: ADA and FMLA Compliance, Leave as Accommodation, Disability vs. Fear

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

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Recorded event now available

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This CLE course will advise employment counsel on how to handle the intersection of mental health issues and ADA and FMLA compliance. The panel will discuss what options employers and employees should consider when an ADA accommodation or FMLA is made, when leave can be considered an accommodation, evaluating an employee's disability versus a general fear when returning to the office, and best practices for making these evaluations.


Employers are taking note of the rise in mental health issues among employees. Recent surveys of 409 employers in August 2020 found that 85 percent of employers were somewhat or very concerned about their employees' mental health. Only seven percent reported that they were not very or not at all concerned about mental health and wellness issues. Among the employers surveyed, 67 percent anticipate that employees will increase using mental health or wellness benefits in the coming months. Mental health disabilities are broadly defined under the DSM-5 and even more broadly in some jurisdictions' statutory definitions.

Employment counsel must prepare clients for responding to ADA accommodation requests and FMLA leave of absence requests. Counsel should assist clients in designing and implementing policies and procedures that balance workplace concerns with the rights of employees addressing mental health issues. Counsel should consider when leave may be requested (and granted) as an accommodation, when remote work is an appropriate accommodation, and how to distinguish generalized fear of returning to the workplace after working from home from a defined disability.

Counsel should also assist employers with ADA and FMLA compliance by taking bold action on mental health benefits via a multi-prong approach. Employers have to understand their employees' emotional well-being and design employee assistance programs to address those needs, including stress, domestic relationships, anxiety, depression, and financial issues. Employment counsel must work with clients to ensure that its company culture focuses on promoting the health and safety of employees and fostering a work environment that is diverse and inclusive.

Listen as our authoritative panel discusses the state of employee mental health in 2021, the compliance requirements for ADA and FMLA, how to address leave requests and accommodations, and the implementation of an employee assistance program that focuses on mental health in conjunction with corporate culture.



  1. Mental health
    1. DSM-5 defined disability
  2. ADA accommodations
    1. Leave as accommodation
  3. FMLA
    1. Leave requests
    2. Disability vs. fear
  4. Employee assistance program


The panel will review these and other relevant issues:

  • What are the most recent issues related to mental health that most employers are facing?
  • How can employers comply with ADA accommodations related to mental health when leave is requested?
  • What type of FMLA compliance is necessary for mental health issues?
  • How can an employer institute an employee assistance program to address mental health issues?


Goldstein, Mark
Mark S. Goldstein

Reed Smith

Mr. Goldstein counsels clients on a variety of workplace issues, including policy development and compliance, risk...  |  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

Yeyni, Tal Burnovski
Tal Burnovski Yeyni

Lewitt Hackman

Ms. Yeyni exclusively represents employers and focuses her practice on reducing the risk of employee claims. This...  |  Read More

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