Benefits

Legal Briefing: 100 Percent Wrong?

By Mark Kobata

May. 8, 2014

Since 2002, UPS Inc. has maintained an inflexible leave policy providing that employees will be “administratively separated from employment” after 12 months of leave, without providing reasonable accommodations for their disabilities. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against UPS alleging that the policy violates several sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

UPS moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that an employee’s ability to regularly attend work and not miss multiple months is an essential job function and not a qualification standard, employment test or other selection criteria. In denying the motion to dismiss, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois noted that the EEOC’s claim is not premised on attendance but rather on UPS’s imposition of a “100 percent healed” requirement on those seeking to return to work. Because such a requirement falls within the definition of a “qualification standard” prohibited by the ADA, the court allowed the EEOC’s claim to proceed. EEOC v. UPS Inc. N.D. Ill. No. 1:09-cv-05291 (Feb. 11, 2014).

Impact: Policies that require employees to return to work only if they are 100 percent healed may violate the ADA. Rather than adhere to fixed, blanket rules that limit the duration of a leave, the better practice is to fold into such policies a reasonable accommodation effort where each leave extension consider whether additional leaves may lead to the individual’s return to work.

James E. Hall, Mark T. Kobata and Marty Denis are partners in the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has offices in Los Angeles and Chicago. To comment, email editors@workforce.com. Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

Mark Kobata and Marty Denis are partners at the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has offices in Beverly Hills, California, and Chicago.

About Workforce.com

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

Benefits

EEOC says that employers legally can offer incentives to employees to get vaccinated in almost all instances

If you’re an employer looking to get as many of your employees vaccinated as possible, you can rest eas...

ADA, CDC, COVID-19, EEOC, GINA, pandemic, vaccinated

workforce blog

Benefits

Fixing some common misconceptions about HIPAA

Ever since the CDC amended its COVID-19 guidance to say that the fully vaccinated no longer need to wea...

COVID-19, health care, HIPAA, human resources, wellness

workforce blog

Benefits

We are in the midst of a public mental health crisis; how employers can help

Do not ignore these issues or your employees who are living with them. Mental health illnesses are no d...

ADA, benefits, Coronavirus, FMLA, mental health, paid time off