Employers must consider employees’ right to medical leave as a reasonable accommodation and cannot have rigid, inflexible leave policies.
In 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released guidance regarding employees’ right to medical leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The main takeaway should be this – employers’ who have rigid, inflexible policies regarding leave are likely violating the ADA. We posted a previous that covered a lot of the same issues.
All too often, our office receives calls from employees whose employers are making adverse employment decisions based on rigid leave policies, such as requiring employees to be 100% or 100% healed before they are permitted to return to work (meaning they cannot return to work with any restrictions), limiting the maximum amount of medical leave an employee can have before disciplinary action up to and including termination, and refusing to consider other options that would allow employees to return to work like reassignment.
The problem with each of the types of policies described above is simple – employers are not fulfilling their obligation to consider what reasonable accommodations would allow the employee to return to work. For 100% healed policies, or policies where employees are restricted from returning to work with any restrictions, the employer is explicitly stating its refusal to consider making any accommodations for the employee with a disability no matter how minor the accommodation may be. When an employer has a policy limiting the maximum amount of leave, such as a restriction beyond 12 weeks or the end of FMLA (if applicable), then the employer is again refusing to consider if additional medical leave of any length would be a reasonable accommodation. Like 100% healed (no restriction) policies, maximum leave policies also evidence employers’ refusal to consider additional leave no matter how short it may be. Finally, where employers do not engage in the interactive process in good faith to determine what accommodations are necessary to allow the employee to return to work, then they are violating the ADA.
Employers must be flexible when faced with an employee who needs medical leave as an accommodation. If employers have black and white policies that fail to consider the burden caused by the additional medical leave, those policies likely violate the ADA and the employees’ right to medical leave.
If you have questions about your legal right to medical leave, then you should speak with an Ohio discrimination attorney immediately who is experienced in handling ADA cases. Our firm prides itself on protecting employees’ right to medical leave by challenging policies which violate the ADA. We have assisted employees in all stages of their requests for medical leave.
Call our office today at 1-614-949-1181 to speak with an Ohio disability discrimination lawyer for a FREE consultation about your employer’s medical leave policies or any discipline you have received because of your medical-related absences. EEOC guidance regarding employees’ right to medical leave under ADA