The EEOC has filed suit against Princeton Healthcare System, claiming its leave policies violated the ADA. According to the EEOC complaint, Princeton Healthcare fires employees who aren’t eligible for leave under the FMLA if they cannot return to work in seven days.
The complaint also alleges disabled employees who use all of their FMLA leave are terminated if they can’t return to work.
The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with a disability. Often, unpaid leave (even if it is in excess of FMLA leave) can be a reasonable accommodation. The ADA requires employers to engage in an individualized assessment and not rely on blanket policies that do not address individual employee’s needs.
The EEOC attempted to conciliate the dispute between Princeton Healthcare and more than a dozen employees who were fired after being denied leave as a reasonable accommodation. Those conciliation efforts failed, and now the EEOC has filed suit seeking injunctive relief and damages.
Note: Although a policy that treats everyone the same may seem fair on its face, it often violates the ADA. Examine your policies and procedures to ensure they comply with the ADA’s individualized assessment requirement.