Employer not obligated to provide FMLA “light duty” assignment

7th Circuit provides companies with guidance for dealing with employees on leave

Employers do not have an obligation to return employees to light duty assignments under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) before the employee can perform essential job functions, the 7th Circuit ruled in James v. Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Carris James worked as a banquet steward at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency hotel until March 2007 when he was punched in the eye outside of work and he suffered a retinal detachment requiring surgery. 

No Requirement

James acknowledged that he received the FMLA leave to which he was entitled, but argued that Hyatt violated the law when it did not return him to light duty work following his April 24 doctor’s note. Seeming to bolster this argument was the 6th Circuit’s 2005 ruling in Brumbalough v. Camelot, in which the court ruled that “once an employee submits a statement from her health care provider which indicates that she may return to work, the employer’s duty to reinstate her has been triggered under the FMLA.”

Alanna Byrne

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.