At the end of 2017, the United States Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit decided that a worker who exhausted his FMLA entitlement (12 weeks) was not entitled to a multi-month leave of absence beyond the scope of reasonable accommodations under the ADA.
- The ADA forbids discrimination against a “qualified individual on the basis of disability.”
- A “qualified individual” with a disability is a person who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position.
- “Reasonable accommodation” is expressly limited to the measures that will enable the employee to work.
- An employee who needs long-term medical leave cannot work and thus is not a “qualified individual” under the ADA.
- An extended leave of absence does not give a disabled individual the means to work; it excuses his not working.
- Intermittent time off or short leave of absence may be an appropriate accommodation for intermittent conditions (arthritis or lupus).
- An Employer is not required to “create a new job or strip a current job of its principal duties to accommodate a disabled employee.”
- Under EEOC guidelines “an Employer need not create a light-duty position for a non-occupationally injured employee with a disability as a reasonable accommodation.”
- If an Employer has a policy of creating light-duty positions for employees who are occupationally injured, then that same benefit ordinarily must be extended to an employee with a disability who is not occupationally injured, unless the Company can show undue hardship.
The state of employment law will continue evolve in 2018, as the Trump Administration and the Courts redefine the laws of ADA, FMLA, Title VII and workplace issues.