HR Management & Compliance

What If a Leave of Absence Reveals That an Employee Is Nonessential?

By Kate McGovern Tornone, Editor

What happens when an employee is out on job-protected leave and you realize that everything keeps moving along just fine without her? Or that her duties shouldn’t really take 40 hours per week?

While federal employment laws generally require that employees be reinstated at the end of a medical leave, employers may have options under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in such situations.

That law states that an employee with a disability must be returned to her same position after a medical leave of absence. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—which covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—recently held that an employer was entitled to change an employee’s job from full-time to part-time when it discovered that her duties did not require a full-time schedule.

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