The EEOC issued a press release on 9.10.19 announcing a $550,000 settlement with an employer who violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by having a rigid 12-week maximum leave policy. Connections, CSP, Inc. is a Delaware company that provides services for Delaware’s corrections facilities and other state institutions. The EEOC alleged that the company violated the ADA by having a rigid policy that refused to allow employees more than 12-weeks of leave for disabilities. The settlement highlights a frequent misapplication by many employers of the intersection between the ADA and the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).
As shown in this case, Connections complied with the FMLA’s requirements of granting 12 weeks of leave, but failed to recognize that the ADA can also require an employer to grant additional leave beyond the 12 weeks. Further, Connections’ rigid 12-week policy was an easy target for the EEOC by creating a “hard line” reasonable accommodation when the law is clear that one does not, and cannot, exist. The result: a $550,000 settlement and some bad press.
StraightforWARD Legal Advice:
When an employee presents a health issue to an employer and requests a leave of absence, most employers are familiar with the FMLA’s 12-week leave provisions. However, many employers make the fatal assumption that the FMLA is the only law that applies. It is not. Employers must also consider the ADA and state disability laws and evaluate whether additional leave beyond the 12 weeks would be a reasonable accommodation for the employee’s disability. There are very few “hard line” rules regarding how much additional leave time is “reasonable” versus “unreasonable.” Various courts across the country have reached different conclusions, including some holding that several additional months of leave can be reasonable under certain circumstances.
The attorneys at Ward Law are experts in all areas of employment law. Christopher M. Curci, Esq. regularly defends employers against all matters of employment litigation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He also provides daily counseling to his clients on employment law compliance, conducts in-house employment law training, and is a frequent lecturer at trade associations and employment law presentations with the National Business Institute. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 215-647-6603.