The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), during a recent public hearing, made it clear that companies with policies that dictate the termination of employees who stay on leaves of absence longer than originally specified will be challenged by the commission, probably through lawsuit.
For example, if a company allows two years for a leave of absence under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and an employee is terminated as soon as he or she asks for more time for recovery, that company is violating the law. In such situations, the EEOC says the company must conduct an "individualized assessment" before taking any action. Better yet, companies should design their leaves of absence with flexibility in mind.
Likewise, if an on-leave employee says she can return only with a reasonable work site accommodation and is then fired, that also is actionable by the EEOC. Once again, the company must conduct an "individualized assessment" to see if a reasonable accommodation can be found. A company with a policy of "100 percent recovery" before returning from leave is in violation of the ADA, the EEOC indicated.
With the recent release of final regulations for the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), it is more critical than ever for employers to treat employee requests for reasonable accommodations fairly and expeditiously. As the ADAAA makes clear, employers should focus more on the accommodation than on challenging the employee's need for it.
Personnel Concepts just updated its ADA Amendments Act Compliance Kit to reflect the EEOC's final regulations. Get your copy today and stay in compliance.