On July 26, 1990, President George W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The ADA makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against qualified applicants or employees based on their physical or mental disabilities. Although the ADA has been the law of the land for 25 years, many employers still find themselves unsure of their obligations under the law.
One specific area of confusion is when to provide additional leave beyond any job-protected leave (for example, leave under the FMLA) as a reasonable accommodation. In general, leave as an accommodation is only considered reasonable if the additional leave would enable the employee to return to work. The ADA does not require an employer to provide an indefinite leave of absence. However, how much leave is considered “reasonable” will depend on many factors, including whether granting the leave would impose an undue hardship on the employer or its operations.
Are there other areas of the ADA you are unsure about? The EEOC has compiled useful guidance for employers over the past 25 years. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the ADA, consider taking the time to better understand how you can support workers with disabilities.