Recently the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a ruling in which the court suggested that a policy with a strict limit on medical leaves of absence might be enforceable. This ruling leads to many questions. For instance:
- Can an employer have such a policy and what risks are associated with that type of policy?
- What happens if the employer eliminates the employee’s position while s/he is out on leave or discovers evidence of wrongdoing while the employee is on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
- Can the employer refuse to reinstate the employee to his/her previous position?
- And, how does the striking increase in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) retaliation cases factor into the leave equation?
These are all complicated issues of significant importance to employers nationwide—and issues that arise all the time when the line separating employees’ FMLA rights, applicable workers’ comp coverage, and rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) isn’t always clearly drawn. Employer rights and obligations can get murky, and it’s imperative that you know how to determine precisely what you can and can’t do when facing the treacherous triangle of disability and leave laws.