ADA Doesn’t Guarantee More Leave Beyond FMLA

By Heather Jackson, Rachel Schaller

Feb. 2, 2018

For seven years, Raymond Severson worked as a fabricator of retail display fixtures, a physically demanding job, for Heartland Woodcraft Inc.

At the end of a 12-week leave under the FMLA to deal with back pain Severson underwent surgery, which required that he take an additional two to three months off from his job to recover. Heartland denied Severson’s request for additional leave and terminated his employment but invited him to reapply once cleared for work.

Instead of reapplying, Severson sued Heartland under the ADA for denying him the accommodation of three-months leave — beyond the 12 weeks of FMLA required leave — and terminating his employment. While it is the EEOC’s position “that compliance with the FMLA does not necessarily meet an employer’s obligation under the ADA,” the 7th Circuit Court held in Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft Inc. that Heartland did not violate the ADA by denying Severson additional time off after he exhausted his FMLA leave. Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc., 872 F.3d 476 (7th Cir. 2017)

Impact: An employer in Illinois, Wisconsin or Indiana that is subject to the FMLA and has a clear and consistent policy to provide no more than the 12 weeks of FMLA leave may not be required to provide additional long term or indefinite leave as an accommodation under the ADA.

Heather A. Jackson and Rachel L. Schaller are attorneys in the Employment Law Practice Group at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, which has offices throughout the Midwest. Comment below or email


blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog


Minimum Wage by State in 2022 – All You Need to Know

Summary The federal minimum wage rate is $7.25, but the rate is higher in 30 states, along with Washing...

federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance

workforce blog


California’s push for a 32-hour workweek explained, and how to prepare

Summary: California is considering a 32-hour workweek bill for businesses with over 500 staff 4 day wee...

32 hour workweek, 4 day workweek, california, legislature, overtime

workforce blog


A business owner’s guide to restaurant tipping law

Business owners in the restaurant industry are in a unique position when it comes to employee tips. As ...

restaurants, tip laws, tipping