Disability Accommodations and Leaves of Absence

Disability Accommodations

“I was fired from my job after I tore my ACL and was unable to lift 50lbs boxes. What are my rights?”

Firing or taking other adverse action against an employee because of their disability may be illegal depending on the circumstances. An employee is often considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act if they suffer from a condition, whether physical or mental, which limits a major life activity. Importantly, because of the broad definition of a “disability” under applicable law, many employees who might not typically think of themselves as “disabled” are nonetheless eligible for disability protections within the workplace. In the event that an employee has a disability, navigating the complex field of disability law can be a daunting and challenging experience.

An employee who discloses an impairment affecting the performance of certain job functions can request an accommodation that helps in the performance of those functions. Under the American’s with Disabilities Act and certain state laws, employers are required to provide disabled employees with accommodations so long as the accommodation does not constitute an undue burden to the employer. However, employers do not always comply with their obligation to engage in an interactive dialogue with disabled employees seeking reasonable accommodations. Further, some employers may be tempted to retaliate against disabled employees who ask for accommodations.

Employees who have been denied a reasonable accommodation, sometimes including a requested leave of absence, or who have been retaliated against for asking for a disability accommodation may be entitled to damages, including but not limited to lost wages, lost earning capacity, lost employment benefits, emotional distress, humiliation, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Leaves of Absence

“I took eight weeks off to deal with a serious illness. When I was ready to come back to work, my employer told me I’d been replaced. Is that legal?”

Employees may be guaranteed a certain amount of weeks of leave per year to deal with serious personal or family medical issues, including the birth of a child. The most common protections are enshrined in the Family and Medical Leave Act, commonly referred to as the FMLA, which typically allows covered employees to take up to twelve weeks of leave per year, either as a whole block of time or intermittently over the course of the year. Beyond federal FMLA protections, many states also provide leave protections that cover smaller employers and other non-health related factors. Employers covered by the FMLA and related laws are typically obligated to grant leave to eligible employees, to avoid retaliating against employees for requesting such leave, and to restore employees to their jobs at the end of protected leaves.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state laws, disabled employees, including those who suffer from a serious health condition that limits any major life activity, may also be eligible to request a protected leave as an accommodation.

Employees who are not restored to their jobs after taking a protected leave or who are retaliated against for taking such a leave may be entitled to damages, including, but not limited to lost wages, lost earning capacity, lost employment benefits, emotional distress, humiliation, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and attorney’s fees. Likewise, employees who were unlawfully denied a protected leave may be entitled to damages, including, but not limited to, liquidated damages, emotional distress damages, and attorney’s fees.

We Offer Free Initial Consultations

If you believe you were improperly denied a reasonable accommodation, retaliated against for requesting an accommodation, or were terminated due to a disability, do not hesitate to contact Wyatt & Associates for a free initial consultation. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys will sit down with you and take the time to listen to your story. If your rights have been violated and you choose to retain us, we will zealously advocate for you at every step of the process.