ADA GuidanceIn non-North Carolina bathroom news, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued this past week a resource document concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). More specifically, this document addresses the use of employer-provided leave as an accommodation under the ADA.

The intent of the EEOC’s resource document is to provide general information to employers and employees regarding when and how leave must be granted for reasons related to an employee’s disability to promote voluntary compliance with the ADA. Or in the words of the EEOC:

The purpose of the ADA’s reasonable accommodation obligation is to require employers to change the way things are customarily done to enable employees with disabilities to work. Leave as a reasonable accommodation is consistent with this purpose when it enables an employee to return to work following the period of leave.

Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA

The EEOC requires employers to consider providing unpaid leave to an employee with a disability as a reasonable accommodation if the employee requires it, and so long as it does not create an undue hardship for the employer. It is important for employers to understand that the EEOC requires employers to provide leave even if:

  • The employer does not offer leave as an employee benefit;
  • The employee is not eligible for leave under the employer’s policy; or
  • The employee has exhausted the leave the employer provides as a benefit (including leave exhausted under a workers’ compensation program, or the FMLA or similar state or local laws).

Reasonable accommodation does not require an employer to provide paid leave beyond what it provides as part of its paid leave policy. Also, as is the case with all other requests for accommodation, an employer can deny requests for leave when it can show that providing the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on its operations or finances.

Closing Thoughts

The EEOC’s resource document contains numerous examples involving different employee leave scenarios. It may not be the most exciting reading, but the EEOC’s resource document should be mandatory reading for human resource professionals.

For more information about leave as a reasonable accommodation, as well as responding to complying with the American’s with Disabilities Act, contact employment attorney Jason Shinn.