The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Is Not a Leave Act, Or Is It?
This week the US Supreme Court let stand a decision from America’s heartland that has been closely watched. The Severson case arose from an employee with a back issue who had surgery at the end of his FMLA leave and was unable to return to work for another three months. He was terminated. Severson sued, claiming his rights under the ADA were violated when he was not allowed extra leave. The Seventh Circuit US Court of Appeals which covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin disagreed. The Court found that ADA is an anti-discrimination statute, not a medical leave law.
What does this mean for employers? The Circuit Courts are split and a ruling from the Supreme Court would have been helpful. Unless and until that occurs, we recommend employers continue to utilize a case by case analysis in determining if leave is a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The interactive process with the employee and analysis of undue burden is the best practice for each instance. The trend favoring employees in these cases may be waning, but the risks in denying accommodation across the board are tremendous. Stay the course: treat the ADA as proscribed by law.
If you have any questions on ADA and FMLA leaves, please contact us. It can be tricky business. firstname.lastname@example.org