An employee who takesis entitled to return to his job (or an equivalent one) when his leave is up if he can perform that job without any accommodation. However, if the employee is disabled under the ADA, he may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under that law.
Be sure to consider both laws before terminating the employee.
Recent case: Alan Macfarlan worked as a maintenance director for almost two decades until he had a stroke. His medical condition meant he had to takeleave to recover. When his 12 weeks were up, his doctor said he could return to work part time, but with lifting restrictions.
The employer didn’t have any part-time positions, and informed Macfarlan so. Macfarlan then persuaded his doctors to allow full-time work, though the lifting restrictions stood.
The employer still refused to allow Macfarlan back, reasoning that under the FMLA, employees must be able to perform all the essential functions of a job without accommodation. Otherwise, they aren’t eligible for reinstatement. It then discharged Macfarlan.
He sued, alleging FMLA and ADA violations.
The court dismissed both claims. It reasoned that employers don’t violate the FMLA when they refuse to reinstate an employee who can’t perform his old job. Plus, it determined that Macfarlan wasn’t disabled; he merely had a lifting restriction that turned out to be temporary. Therefore, he wasn’t entitled to accommodations under the ADA either. (Macfarlan v. Ivy Hill, et al., No. 11-2307, 3rd Cir., 2012)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- You can require FMLA certification form directly from doctor
- Think twice before changing employee's job duties or hours during FMLA leave
- Don't extend disciplinary periods due to FMLA or military absences
- Warn bosses: Don't say anything about medical conditions that may be covered by FMLA