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What should we do? Returning employee wants full-time work, we want part time

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in Discrimination and Harassment,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. When an employee requested a reduced schedule as an accommodation of his medical condition, we agreed. He has now told us that he is able to work full time. However, because of business conditions, we’d prefer to keep him at a reduced schedule. Do we have to reinstate him to his full-time job?

A. The answer to your question may depend on whether other employees also perform the same job, and if so, whether these employees are also being asked to reduce their work schedules.

If this employee is on FMLA leave, he is entitled to be reinstated to his previous position at the end of his leave. There is an exception to this requirement if the change in the job schedule would have occurred regardless of whether the employee had been on FMLA leave.

If this is the only employee whose hours are being reduced as a result of the change in business conditions, then you would be susceptible to a claim that you were violating the employee’s FMLA rights. If everyone is being treated in the same manner, then the FMLA would not require you to reinstate this employee to his previous schedule.

Even if the FMLA does not apply, state and federal disability discrimination laws might also preclude you from treating this employee differently from other similarly situated employees.

If the employee’s medical condition rises to the level of a disability, then it could be deemed discriminatory to refuse reinstatement unless there is some other reason, unrelated to his accommodation request.

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