When Can My Employer Question My Medical Information?
Hello, I found out that I was pregnant on one day, and told my manager on the next day. I found out about the FMLA forms for prenatal care visits and intermittent FMLA that could be taken for complications during pregnancy by a co-worker several days later. I filled out the prenatal care visit form, and was approved for that. I missed a day due to morning sickness that would not allow me to go into work. I called in prior to my shift starting, citing that it was morning sickness, and my midwife filled out the intermittent FMLA form for it. My employer declined it the first time because it was not filled out appropriately. I went in see my midwife a month after that absence and she went over the form with me and filled it out completely, including a referral to a physical therapist for sciatica that has been caused by my pregnancy.
They contacted the day after I turned it in and told me that they couldn't approve it for the following reasons: 1) I had not been seen by a doctor to treat me for severe dehydration due to morning sickness and 2) I had not been prescribed any anti-nausea medication. The physical therapy was also declined because 1) I had not set up any appointments yet (I was waiting until I was approved, so that my job was protected. My company has a very strict attendance policy) and 2) They said that they cannot accept a mere referral from the doctor. My case manager said she would submit it for a peer review. When I hadn't heard anything back from them for a few weeks, I called to see if I could find out the status. I was told that my case manager had made a note in the case (that was not discussed over the phone when we talked a few weeks ago) that the peer review could not take place until I had officially scheduled an appointment for the physical therapy.
I am nervous that if I do schedule the appointment, take the appointment, it may still come back declined, which could potentially leave me with no job. There had been no further contact with me to indicate that they were waiting on action from me. They had also indicated that they could not approve the day I missed for morning sickness because they are unable to approve absence for morning sickness retroactively, and that my doctor would have had to fill out the FMLA form prior to me missing that day and provide a medical statement to prove that the morning sickness was severe enough to warrant FMLA.
I am wondering if this is something employers are able to do? In my reading of the FMLA, incapacity due to severe morning sickness does not have to be confirmed or seen by a doctor. And the fact that my doctor confirmed that I had been having morning sickness for a while before then should have been enough; as well as the fact that the sciatica was placed on the FMLA form as being caused by pregnancy. Are they able to deny my FMLA request due to the reasons that they cited, or am I way off base in my understanding of the FMLA?