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Labor: A tough pill to swallow—has the ADA made the FMLA irrelevant?

The ADA considers unpaid leave to be a reasonable accommodation, so employers may still have to provide such leave after an employee exhausts the 12 weeks of FMLA leave

Because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (as amended in 2009) is expansive enough to cover most medical conditions, many employees will, at some point during their tenure, need a reasonable accommodation. One accommodation that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considers presumptively reasonable is an unpaid leave of absence, even in instances where the employer is too small to be covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the employee’s tenure is too short to be FMLA-eligible.

If the ADA covers most employees’ medical issues and considers an unpaid leave of absence to be a reasonable accommodation, then the ADA, for all intents and purposes, has swallowed the FMLA—at least as employee medical leaves are concerned.

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Jon Hyman

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Labor & Employment and Litigation groups at Cleveland law firm Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, a Meritas member firm....

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