March 07, 2018 Articles

Is a “Long-Term Leave of Absence” a Reasonable Accommodation?

Growing disagreement between the EEOC and the courts creates uncertainty

by Carolyn A. Davis and Devin M. Spencer

What are an employer’s obligations to an employee who has exhausted his or her 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) but whose medical condition still prevents him or her from returning to work? The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, may require the employer to provide the employee with additional time off as a reasonable accommodation. The question of how much additional leave is a growing source of conflict among the federal appellate courts and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The current legal landscape of where the ADA’s “reasonable accommodation” requirement picks up after the FMLA leaves off is murky at best, leaving employers without clear direction on the issue.

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