Do you know what happens when you maintain a policy or practice that requires an employee to return to work without restrictions or “100% healed”? You pay. A lot.
Articles Discussing FMLA Reinstatement Rights.
Last week, I had the pleasure of co-presenting with EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum on the topic of “leave” as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Our presentation was part of an FMLA/ADA compliance conference hosted by the Disability Management Employer Coalition. You can access BNA’s coverage of our presentation here. Naturally, Cmmr. Feldblum and I aren’t going to agree on everything when it comes to the ADA, since I represent employers and Cmmr. Feldblum is a sitting EEOC Commissioner. But when it comes to employer compliance with the ADA, we found much to agree on during this session.
Do you know what’s particularly oppressive about the FMLA? [You: Jeff, everything about the FMLA is oppressive!]
The Family and Medical Leave Act and its regulations tell us that an employer must return an employee to the same or an equivalent position upon return from FMLA leave. Not surprisingly, I often am asked by clients, “What is an ‘equivalent’ position?”
Here’s a question from the client inquiry line this past week, and it pops up often enough that I figured I would share:
There must be something in the water. Over the past few months alone, I have reviewed a number of employers’ policies and correspondence regarding an employee’s return to work from a leave of absence. What has been surprising to me is the number of employer policies that require an employee to return from leave with “no restrictions” or “100% healed.” Consider the following requirement, which was embedded in an employer’s return to work notice at the conclusion of FMLA leave:
Employers often complain that they see an uptick in the use of sick leave and FMLA leave around the holidays. In the case of Southwest Airlines, however, one employee clearly took FMLA misuse a bit too far.
We have an employee returning from FMLA leave due to his own serious health condition. Although the employee has provided a doctor’s note stating that he is released to work “full duty,” we have serious concerns about his ability to do his job without risk of injury to himself or others. Can we require him to see a doctor selected by the company?