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Worker’s FMLA time expired? Check ADA obligation, too

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. An employee's been on FMLA leave for pregnancy for about 17 weeks. Now that the 16 weeks (12 under FMLA, plus four additional in our state) have expired, we plan to terminate her and let her know that she is eligible for rehire when and if she returns to work. Are we legally safe? —C.A., California

A. Many employers mistakenly believe their obligation to provide time off ends immediately after the employee's FMLA time is exhausted. That misconception can be dangerous. Depending on the circumstances, you may have an obligation to continue leave under the ADA's reasonable-accommodation rule.

That begs the question: How much leave is enough under the ADA? The answer depends on the facts. In some cases, courts have said the ADA requires leave that exceeds a year. But employees are not entitled to an indefinite leave of absence under the ADA. Best bet: Always ask the employee's doctor for a return-to-work date you can count on.

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