Looking to reverse recent spikes in federal disability discrimination claims, authorities with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have just released a new “resource document” to clarify disabled employees’ rights to reasonable accommodation and leave time.
Entitled Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans with Disabilities Act, this new resource is aimed at:
- Preventing “discriminatory denials of leave” by informing employers of their obligations while educating workers about their rights
- Answering common questions that employers and employees tend to have regarding disability leave and reasonable accommodations
- Providing some illustrative examples of how disability leave rights apply in specific situations
- Expanding a series of EEOC Resource Documents intended to elucidate EEOC policies.
As the EEOC has revealed, one of the motivations behind issuing this new resource was the finding that, in 2015, disability discrimination complaints filed with federal authorities peaked to a new high, increasing more than 6 percent (when compared to the filings from 2014).
A Closer Look at the Issued Addressed in the EEOC’s New Resource Guide
Some of the specific disability leave issues that are addressed and explained in the new resource document include (but are not limited to):
- The interactive process employers must engage in when addressing requests for reasonable accommodations for disabled employees
- Policies regarding maximum leave time and “100 percent healed”
- When reassigning disabled employees constitutes a violation of the law.
The new guidance document does NOT, however, create new policy or change the existing terms of the ADA, as the EEOC has explained.
Speaking to the authorities’ motivations for issuing this new guidance document, EEOC Chair Jenny Yang has stated:
Providing employees with a period of leave for medical treatment or recovery can be a critical reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities… This resource document explains to employers and employees in a clear and practical way how to approach requests for leave as a reasonable accommodation so that employees can manage their health and employers can meet their business needs.
Similarly, EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic has explained that:
I believe it will be helpful to both employers and employees… Leave issues often present some of the toughest situations for employers and employees to deal with in our workplaces. This document provides needed one-stop guidance on how the EEOC approaches many of the common issues we see.
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