The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. These medical reasons include the “serious health condition” of an employee’s spouse, child, or parent, or the “serious health condition” of the employee that prevents him/her from performing the essential functions of their job.
In order to assess whether a covered individual has a “serious health condition”, an employer can require sufficient medical information to support an employee’s request for FML. However, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) generally restricts a healthcare provider from divulging protected health information (“PHI”) of their patients to third-parties, including employers. This article provides tips for maneuvering through the potential conflicts between these two statutes.