Employers keep repeating this FMLA and ADA mistake

There’s an old saying that if a person is observant, they can learn from the mistakes that others have made and avoid making those same mistakes themselves. It appears that some employers are simply unable to learn from errors others have made when dealing with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), requests for reasonable accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Despite the evidence that employers get into legal trouble when they insist that workers on FMLA leave are “100 percent healed” before they can return to their jobs, employers keep making that demand and finding themselves facing ADA and FMLA lawsuits.

We read recently of a beverage distributor that told a warehouse administrator that he could only return to work if he had no medical limitations. The company then fired the man instead of providing a reasonable accommodation, according to the man’s recently filed lawsuit.

The man had had an embolism and been hospitalized. He then went on FMLA leave. He offered to return to his job with restrictions on lifting, but was told he could only return if he was 100 percent healed and had no medical restrictions. He then asked for an accommodation of additional unpaid leave so that he could recuperate more fully and return to his job without restrictions.

The beverage distributor turned down his request and fired him.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that employers should be aware that denying requests for reasonable accommodations could violate the ADA. In fact, the EEOC has been cracking down on companies that have “100 percent healed” policies that put them at risk of ADA and FMLA violations (unless they can show that an accommodation would cause them an undue hardship).

If a Milwaukee employer has violated your workplace rights under the ADA or FMLA, contact the law offices of Alan C. Olson and Associates to schedule a consultation.


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