85,000 reasons to nix inflexible employee-leave policies

Just go ahead, and kill them dead!

But before I get to that, I want to quickly plug our free event next week on November 12, 2014. I’ll give you four reasons to attend:

  1. Chai R. Feldblum, Commissioner, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  2. Richard F. Griffin, Jr., General Counsel, National Labor Relations Board
  3. Harry I. Johnson, III, Board Member, National Labor Relations Board
  4. Free breakfast

Sure, I’ll be on the panel too, but do any of you really want to see me? Besides, I wouldn’t want to destroy the mystique of our intimate blogger-reader relationship? I imagine many of you now breathless, picturing an erudite, chiseled, scholar; the blogging prose, typos, and grammar mistakes dripping from my two-typing fingers, as I….I’ll stop talking now. 

Details on the event are here. A few tickets still remain. RSVP fast!

After the jump, back to reality. Kill! Kill! Kill! (the policies…)

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Do you have a leave policy that provides employees up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave in a twelve-month period? And does that policy also provide that, if an employee exhausts that leave entitlement without returning to work, the company will accept the employee’s resignation and permit the employee to apply for suitable openings when able?

And for you non-FMLA-covered employers, do you provide employees with a bank of paid time off, which, if exceeded, results in termination of employment?

If so, kindly read this press release from the EEOC. In particular, pay real close attention to the part where the EEOC alleged that an employer had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because, allegedly, the company had capped the duration of employee leaves of absence without making appropriate exceptions for people with disabilities.

Also, don’t miss the part where the company agreed to change its leave policies, fork over $85,000 to five individuals who the EEOC said were affected by the prior policies, and it will conduct training about the ADA for current employees.

While it’s ok to limit the amount of time off that employees can take, don’t forget that additional leave may be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. So, your leave policies should include this caveat. And while we’re on the subject of flexibility, remember to engage your employees in a good-faith interactive dialogue when discussing the array of potential reasonable accommodations that will allow an employee to perform the essential functions of the job.

Or don’t. And maybe your business will be featured here in the next blog post about an EEOC lawsuit.