Larson & Gaston, LLP


Clarifying ADA policy, language sought from Supreme Court

The Americans with Disabilities Act provides that employees with disabling medical conditions can take leave for multi-month periods, even for a year or longer.

But wait a minute. Perhaps that's wrong. As noted in a recent overview of the ADA and its parameters, some analysts say that the federal legislation allows instead for only "brief periods of medical leave -- such as a few days or even weeks."

And there is a third group of commentators why say that it would be legally unwise for any employer in California or nationally to insert any rigid leave ceiling or months-long accommodation on ADA leaves. From an employment law perspective, they say, it's better for business principals to sit down with leave applicants on a case-by-case basis to determine what will be a reasonable company response.

The above ADA-linked interpretations simply seek to make a point, namely this: legions of people who need to know about ADA rules and requirements with certainty lack such knowledge. They point to a split in viewpoints across the country's appellate court circuits, and they say that the U.S. Supreme Court needs to step up and release some overdue clarification.

Until it does (notably, a petitioner in one dispute with an employer has asked SCOTUS to review his case and announce a unifying ADA standard), both workers and business managers will be on uncertain ground when invoking the legislation.

Concededly, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. The issue centered on the ADA is how much additional time it allows for medical leave once FMLA entitlements are exhausted.

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