Q. We run a courier service delivering time-sensitive documents around the Twin Cities by bicycle. Recently, an employee broke her leg while skiing. Now she is unable to perform her job as bicycle courier. Do we have to put her in a different job while her leg is in a cast?
A. Although your employee is impaired in her ability to deliver documents by bicycle, she is not likely to be disabled under the ADA. To qualify as a disability, an impairment must be more than a minor or transitory impairment (i.e., lasting more than six months). Here, your employee is not likely to be disabled if her broken leg will heal in less than six months.
Because she is not disabled, you do not need to accommodate her injury. Even if you were obligated to provide reasonable accommodations, disregarding the essential functions of her job and putting her in a new job is not likely to be considered a reasonable accommodation that you would be obligated to provide.
Although she may not have protections under disability discrimination laws, if you are anemployer and she is a qualified employee, she may be entitled to up 12 weeks of leave from work to recover from her injury. If she is able to return to her job after her entitlement expires, you would be obligated to reinstate her to her previous position following the leave.