ADA does not require indefinite break from essential job functions


Readers of this blog know (here, here, and here) that if a disabled employee requests an indefinite leave of absence from work, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require you to provide it. Why? Because that accommodation is not reasonable.

[Editor’s note: Obsessed much, Eric? Three posts about the same topic?!? Why don’t you just share with your readers about how you refused to drink anything other than water for hours after yesterday’s Labor Day lunch of chilaquiles, just so you could continue to savor the satisfying burp-flavor of red sauce and refried beans. TMI, Eric. TMI….]

To the two remaining readers who made it this far, I’ll school you on requests for an indefinite reprieve from essential job functions after the jump…

*** belches, draws dirty look from wife, smiles ***

* * *

[Editor’s Note: I have no idea what this song means. I heard it Sunday during the Made In America Festival right before Jay-Z’s 99 Problem encore and I assume that it has something to with ADA accommodations…or chilaquiles]

Last week, the Tenth Circuit reconfirmed in this opinion that an employee request for an indefinite break from performing the essential functions of the employee’s job is also unreasonable. Therefore, if presented with that request, you politely decline.

That said, if an employee comes to you with what appears to be an unreasonable ADA accommodation request, don’t just say no and end the conversation. Remember employers, the ADA requires an interactive dialogue. That’s a back and forth whereby you may ascertain a reasonable accommodation that will allow the employee to perform essential job functions. 

So, if an employee requests an indefinite leave from work or similar reprieve from essential job functions, consider reassignment to a vacant position (assuming one exists) that will allow that employee to return to work. Another option would be to acquire or modify equipment, if doing so would not cause undue burden. 

Ultimately, it may be that a reasonable accommodation does not exist. But, do explore some options and, whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s documented.

Image credit: Hajor (Wikimedia Commons)

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