This year, shipping giant UPS agreed to pay a total of $2 million to nearly 90 current and former UPS employees to resolve a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Part of the suit alleged that the company maintained an inflexible leave policy that unfairly terminated disabled employees when they reached 12 months of leave without engaging in what is known as the “interactive process” required by law under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
This case and others serve as a reminder to employers of the complex nature of leave laws. A company may be aware that it would be a violation of federal law to mandate that a disabled employee return to work without providing reasonable accommodations, or to restrict their medical leave to the 12 weeks required by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). What most employers fail to recognize is that they have a duty beyond the FMLA to provide unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, unless the accommodation would cause “undue hardship” to the employer.
As published in the Business Journals