Monday, June 6, 2011

EEOC to consider the use of leave as a reasonable accommodation

I have previously discussed how the ADA may require that employers provide unpaid leaves of absence to disabled employees of more than 12 weeks:

Later this week, the EEOC will hold a public meeting to discuss this very issue. According to the EEOC’s press release:

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, June 8, at 9:30 a.m. (Eastern Time), … to examine the use of leave as a reasonable accommodation…. The Commission will hear from invited panelists on the appropriate use of disability leave as a reasonable accommodation and on complying with relevant regulations

Considering that the Agency’s agenda includes a discussion of “how to comply with the law and appropriately permit leave to employees,” I do not expect to hear any paradigm-shifting revelations. Instead, this meeting should merely highlight for employers the importance of considering an unpaid leave of absence as a reasonable accommodation, and the illegality of inflexible and hard-capped leave of absence policies.

Nevertheless, the EEOC is using these public meetings to highlight regulatory and enforcement issues it is prioritizing (e.g., the use of employment status and credit history as hiring criteria, and the plight of older workers). Because the EEOC appears to be targeting leaves of absence for heightened enforcement, employers should pay special attention to this issue. I will have a full summary of the EEOC’s public meeting later this week.

[Hat tip: Workplace Prof Blog]

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