The Relationship Between Disability and Time off Work

Where the Boundaries Lie

The Americans with Disabilities passed in 1990 under President H.W. Bush and it finally included disabilities into the list of other factors such as race, gender, and nationality that cannot be used to dole out unequal treatment amongst those in the workplace and otherwise. This means now that a mental or physical disability cannot be the sole reason to lose a job or miss opportunities that others have.

This concept gets trickier when we include time off. It’s reasonable to assume that one with a disability or serious health concern may need more time off of work to tend to it than another who is in full capacity and good health both mentally and physically. Well, as an American with disabilities, how much time should you be given in order to tend to your condition? When do the accommodations stop?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (1993)

The Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates that employers as well as public institutions and faculties need to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, and under FMLA, this includes unpaid leave time without the threat of losing one’s job.

Under this act, certain employees are guaranteed up to 12 weeks out of 12 months off that are unpaid and which don’t affect that individual’s position. This is considered a reasonable accommodation, such as the incorporation of ramps or other means by which handicapped people can access all of the faculties of a building. During these 12 weeks, the employee still receives the same benefits.

Important Note on These Acts and How They Apply

Of course, one cannot be discriminated against on a sole basis of their disability. But, the ADA only protects those from discrimination if they are capable of performing the job. Many attorneys would argue, especially that of your employer if push came to shove, that needing more time off than 12 weeks a year would make you incapable of performing the job, and thereby not covered by the ADA.

This, unfortunately, is where the limit lies. One needs to be able to perform their job in every capacity regardless of their disability in order to be protected by FMLA and ADA.

If your employer has not honored the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Act, and you feel as though you have been discriminated against or insufficiently accommodated for your disability, call our Los Angeles employment law attorney, Alan Burton Newman, today.