In a case involving a worker who exhausted his Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 12 weeks of leave and then requested more time off under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the “ADA is an antidiscrimination statute, not a medical-leave entitlement.”

In Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc., the court was to determine if the company was in violation of the ADA when it refused to grant additional leave to a worker who, on his last day of FMLA leave, had back surgery and requested three more months off. Instead, the company terminated him and told him he could reapply when he was healthy. He never reapplied but filed a lawsuit for discrimination under the ADA.

The court, in ruling against the plaintiff, further held that the term “reasonable accommodation” is expressly limited to those measures that enable an employee to work on the job, and that an employee who needs long-term medical leave cannot work and thus is not a qualified individual with a disability under the ADA. Therefore, concluded the court, a multi-month leave of absence is beyond the scope of a reasonable accommodation.