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Indefinite leave isn’t a reasonable accommodation

by on
in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Sometimes, ­­employers must grant more time off to disabled em­­ployees if their FMLA and other leave has expired. But they don’t have to if doctors can’t estimate a return-to-work date.

Recent case: Tempie, a nurse, had disabilities that made her job difficult. When confronted about what her supervisor called subpar work, she got upset and fell, hitting her head on a desk. She never returned to work.

During the following months, Tempie provided a series of doctors’ notes indicating that her inability to work was essentially indefinite. After several warnings, the employer terminated her. She sued, claiming she should have received additional time off as a reasonable accommodation.

The court disagreed. Because her doctors couldn’t even estimate her return date, she was requesting open-ended leave. (Bell vs. Shinseki, No. 1:12-CV-57, MD NC, 2013)

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