Tuesday August 31, 2021

Employee Disability Accommodation: To Grant Leave or Not — That Is the Question

Employers faced with requests for extended leave or additional leave following the expiration of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or other protected leave are in a quandary. The end of “protected leave” is not necessarily an opportune time to end an employment relationship — even if the employer believes the employee will not return to work — as the employer must ensure it does not fall into a claim of disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, or failure to engage in the interactive process.

In these circumstances, employers are on notice that an employee is suffering from a disability impacting their ability to carry out the essential functions of their position, and therefore must engage in the “interactive process” to assess and determine whether the additional leave requests constitute a reasonable accommodation to help the employee perform the essential functions of their position.

Originally published in HR Pulse Magazine, Spring 2018