12. ADA & FMLA

David My brother Ben was granted 12 weeks leave from his job  due to lung cancer treatment. But, on his 12th week, Ben had complications and called his supervisor to request a two week extension.  His supervisor went bizerk! He said, “If you can’t come back next week, then don’t come back at all!“ Can they do that? Just fire him?

Oce The ADA is very clear on this, the supervisor cannot refuse Ben’s request for an extension unless the supervisor can prove that Ben’s absence will create an ‘undue burden’ .

David, A what?

Oce An ‘undue burden’. It’s a legal term that means that Ben’s absence would be too Costly and Disruptive and change the nature or operation of the business.

David, Oh?

Oce Work-leave issues are challenging because there are two laws that cover work-leave. The first is the Family and Medical Leave Act commonly referred to as the FMLA. And the second is the ADA.

David It’s complicated.

Oce Yes it is. Under the ADA, a worker with a disability has the right to an accommodation.  Work-leave is one form of an accommodation. 

David Is there a limit to how much leave can be given?

Oce Under the ADA there is no limit.  The amount of leave granted is on a case by case basis.

David How much leave can workers take under FMLA? 

Oce Under FMLA, a worker has the right to take 12 weeks of leave.

David Can one person trigger both laws?

Oce Yes, employees can have rights under both laws if they meet the definition of “disability” under the ADA and the definition of a “serious health condition” under FMLA. For example, workers who have used up 12 weeks of FMLA-leave can still have rights under the ADA.  And workers who don’t qualify for FMLA, might qualify under the ADA.

David I have a headache!

Oce Me too! But there is help!