Can leave be considered a “reasonable accommodation”? At a recent labor and employment conference, an employers’ duty toward workers with injuries was discussed. Calling the “American with Disabilities Act” (the ADA) an “inadvertent leave law” an EEOC Commissioner explained that after employees have exhausted the leave entitled to them under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they may be allowed to take additional leave as a “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA.
As a general rule, the ADA protects qualified individuals with a disability by requiring your employer make an effort to reasonably accommodate your disability.
If you have questions about the ADA or your entitlement to leave under other employment laws such as the FMLA, it’s a good idea to consult with a top Georgia disability discrimination lawyer to discuss your case.
The commissioner explained that although the ADA does not specifically define the term “reasonable accommodation,” the Act provides several examples of what could be considered a reasonable accommodations, including leave, reassignment to an vacant position or changing your start time by a few minutes.
Further, when deciding whether an accommodation is “reasonable,” the test is whether the request creates undue hardship – defined as “significant difficulty or expense” – to the employer. The commissioner noted that the ADA is meant to “rectify the tilt” that may make a disabled person unequal in the work place. Because the ADA doesn’t provide clear lines as to what exactly is a reasonable accommodation, especially in terms of leave, each situation is evaluated on a case by case basis.
As a result of the limited guidance concerning leave, several lawsuits have been filed across the country concerning leave policies and the ADA.
While many questions exist concerning leave, most agree that it’s an employee’s responsibility to first request leave, and the need for accommodation, although no particular words are needed to start the process. Once an employee requests an accommodation, employers must do more than just say, “no.” The employer must go through the process of considering an accommodation. If an accommodation has been rejected, an employee should try to offer other options – if an employer continues to reject options, it may be easier to show that an employer acted in “bad faith.”
Leave requests – including how much time is allowed and under what circumstances – can be confusing. If you have questions concerning leave please contact the experienced Atlanta disability discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.