An employee’s need for medical leave generally triggers the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (if applicable) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). More information about an employee’s right to FMLA leave can be found on our website or by contacting our Ohio ADA Discrimination Attorneys. But, what happens when an employee is in need of leave beyond the 12 weeks provided under the FMLA?
Courts have found that medical leave can be an accommodation under the ADA. In instances where an employer has rigid or inflexible policies regarding medical leave that point out to discipline or terminate employees after so many absences regardless of the reason for the absence, the policy likely violates the ADA. The ADA violation (when applied to an employee with a disability) in an inflexible attendance policy occurs because the employer is unwilling to engage in the interactive process with the disabled employee to consider what reasonable accommodations could be made in order to keep the employee employed, such as an extension of medical leave. Inflexible medical leave or attendance policies can have significant consequences as set forth in this article detailing a recent EEOC settlement. In particular, the EEOC alleged the nationwide employer discriminated against individuals with disabilities by disciplining and discharging them. The employer issued attendance points for medical-related absences, did not allow intermittent leave as a reasonable accommodation, and did not allow leave or an extension of leave as a reasonable accommodation.
If employees find themselves in need of additional medical leave after they have exhausted their FMLA, they should speak with our attorneys about the best steps they can take in order to protect themselves. It’s important that individuals suffering from medical issues understand their rights to medical leave and extensions of medical leave so long as the extended medical leave would be a reasonable accommodation. It is irrelevant whether the employee has exhausted their FMLA medical leave or has PTO in order to cover the medical leave. If any of the facts set forth in this short blog sound like a situation you are facing at work – your employer is disciplining you or applying an inflexible attendance policy to terminate your employment – then you should contact our employment attorneys immediately. The employer’s actions may violate the ADA prohibiting disability discrimination. Our office is happy to provide a free consultation if you find yourself in this situation. Give us a call at 1-614-949-1181 to speak with our Ohio ADA Discrimination Attorneys.