If you've been reading my blogs, I've talked about the potential disability-related concerns pertaining to terminal leave policies that don't consider whether or not additional leave might be a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability. The same is true for 100% healed policies that automatically refuse to let an employee return to work without considering if there is a workplace support that might be reasonable & effective so that the employee with a disability can also return to work. Under the ADA, inflexible policies such as these, puts an employer at risk of disability discrimination.
When a truck driver wanted to return to work after medical leave due to back problems, he provided his employer with a medical release with restrictions. He sued under the ADA when the company, due to its 100% policy, didn't allow him to return to work without a restriction-free release.
So why did the court rule in favor of the company? A logical question. Because the driver couldn't prove that he was a person with a disability. When he wasn't allowed to return to work with the company, he began working as a warehouse foreman for his father's agricultural company. Allegedly, the work was more physically demanding. There's certainly more to this particular case, but the point is this...While terminal leave or 100% healed policies may be OK for employees without disabilities, the ADA requires employers to be flexible when considering if there might be a reasonable accommodation that would let the individual return to work & perform the essential duties of the job. And, reassignment to a vacant position for which he's qualified, may be a "last resort option."
Now is the time to review your company policies and procedures to make sure they are not inadvertently discriminating when it comes to disability. If you're not sure how to go about this, Springboard can assist you in this review.
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.