Last week, we had a two-part series on the interplay between the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The former clearly obligates employers to afford leave to an eligible employee to care for a sick child. But, what about the latter? That is, must an employer provide leave from work as a reasonable accommodation to an employee to permit her to care for a disabled child?
In a case decided earlier this month (Magnus v. St. Mark United Methodist Church), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the ADA does not require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to non-disabled workers.
However, that does not mean that employers have carte blanche to discriminate against employees who must care for disabled loved ones. Here are a couple of other lessons from the Seventh Circuit:
- The ADA forbids an employer from discriminating against an employee because of a known disability of an individual with whom the employee is known to have a relationship or association. This is known as associational discrimination.
- An employer may not terminate (or refuse to hire) an employee for unfounded assumptions about the need to care for a disabled person.
- The ADA does not preclude an employer from firing an employee who violates an attendance policy, if the reason for the absence is to care for a disabled loved-one. (Editor’s note: It may violate the FMLA).
(h/t Eric Sigda @ GT L&E Blog)