Leave Policies with “No Restrictions” May Violate ADA

Requiring Employees to Return from Leave With “No Restrictions” May Violate theADAandOregon’s Anti-Disability Statute

Such “no restrictions” return to work policies likely violate both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ORS 659A.103-145, because the laws require employers to explore whether a disabled employee with restrictions could return to work with or without a reasonable accommodation.  In other words, an employee who is not 100% cleared to return to work may be an individual with a disability who can perform the essential functions of the job and, therefore, is entitled to be accommodated by the employer – which includes being permitted to return to work with restrictions.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): “the hottest areas of EEOC litigation involve the agency’s efforts to root out inflexible leave policies – particularly those that supposedly eliminate an employer’s legal obligation to explore and make reasonable accommodations for employees returning from medical leaves of absence.” [link http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-1-2012.cfm]

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