Inflexible & terminal leave policies present certain legal risks to employers. If you’re considering termination of an employee with a disability who asks for additional leave as a reasonable accommodation after exhausting his/her FMLA leave, be careful. It might make more sense to grant it.
Unless you really can prove that this would cause undue hardship on your company (perhaps he’s the only person who does that particular job), you may increase your risk of acting in a discriminatory manner. It’s OK to ask the employee for appropriate medical documentation to justify the need for the additional time off. But, if you can reinstate the employee to that position by granting additional leave without having to make extensive operational changes in his absence, it will be more cost effective than paying back pay, front pay, compensatory damages (e.g., pain & suffering), punitive damages and attorney’s fees if you lose a potential discrimination lawsuit. This is a reminder that now is the time to review your leave policies to determine whether there is a hard maximum limit to the leave that requires or results in the employee being terminated if unable to return
This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.