ADA Reasonable Accommodation – Leave

As you know Ohio State is a covered employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  As OSU’s Equal Employment for Individuals with Disabilities Policy 4.45 states:  “It is a violation of university policy to discriminate in employment against a qualified person in regard to any employment practice or term, condition or privilege of employment because that person currently has a disability, at one time had a disability or is regarded as having a disability. It is also a violation of this policy to deny an employment opportunity or benefit or otherwise discriminate against an individual, whether or not the individual has a disability, because that individual has a known relationship or association with a person who has a disability. This prohibition applies to job application procedures, hiring, advancement and discharge of employees; employee compensation; job training; and all other terms and conditions of employment.”

Did you know the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently published a resource document on leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA?

Federal regulations define a reasonable accommodation broadly as, “any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.”  Remember an employer does not need to make an accommodation if it will cause an “undue hardship”; meaning a significant difficulty or expense to the employer.

The EEOC’s resource document provides the following guidelines:

  1. Equal access to leave under an employer’s leave policy:  If an employer gets a leave request for leave that is within leave policy, the employer should treat the employee the same as it would an employee requesting leave for a non-disability related reason.
  2. Leave and the interactive process: The EEOC favors an interactive process, the employee and employer communicating about their needs.  The process, as stated by EEOC, is intended to “change the way things are customarily done” and in the least painful way to ensure all parties are on the same page.
  3. Maximum leave policies: Under the ADA, employers are required to explore allowing people to use leave as a reasonable accommodation beyond what may be allowed under a maximum leave policy.
  4. Return to work and reasonable accommodation (including reassignment): Be sure to follow the transitional work policy to allow a disabled employee to return to work.  Avoid having “one-hundred percent healed” policies.
  5. Undue hardship: The EEOC provides a list of things to consider when determining if an accommodation request is an undue hardship.  This is a case-by-case determination.

Modified from:  Littler Mendleson, PC June 14, 2016, “Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation for ADA Compliance ”, by Peter A. Susser and Cori K. Garland

Are you an HR Legal Expert?

Below is a court case for you to review and test your HR legal knowledge.  Review the facts of the case, decide which side you think prevailed and find out if you are correct.

The case:  First Amendment – Epstein v. Suffolk Community College (E.D.N.Y. 2:14-CV-00937)

The Facts:

  • Supreme Court Rule – A public employee speaking as part of his or her job duties does not qualify for First Amendment speech protection.
  • Plaintiff was a professor at Suffolk Community College and served as coordinator of the college’s honor program for seven years prior to having his position eliminated due to budgetary reasons.
  • Plaintiff publicly criticized the college and its honor’s program, objecting to the college permitting unqualified students to enroll in the program.
  • Plaintiff alleged that the college’s advertising, admissions and campus budget policies had a disparate impact on minority students because of “racist overtones” and “failed to feature any minority students.”
  • Plaintiff alleged the college’s funds were distributed unequally among campuses, with favor going to the predominantly Caucasian campus.
  • Plaintiff alleged that in response to his speech, the college denied him a promotion and took away his coordinator position that he held for seven years.
  • The college defended itself saying his speech was not protected by the First Amendment and his coordinator position was eliminated for budgetary reasons.


The Question: Is a college professor’s criticism of the college honor’s program and additional racial bias allegations protected under the First Amendment?


The plaintiff’s speech was inherent to his role as professor and therefore was not protected by the First Amendment. The court noted that the plaintiff’s speech was a means to fulfill his responsibilities and not protected.

What Makes Great Bosses Unforgettable?

Google has been researching the qualities that make mangers great at Google.  The next step they are taking is building a training program that teaches every manager to embrace the qualities.

  1. Great bosses are passionate. Unforgettable bosses believe in what they’re trying to accomplish and enjoy doing it.
  2. They stand in front of the bus. Great bosses remove people from the bus’s path before they are in danger.  Great bosses, coach and take obstacles out of the employee’s way.  At times, the great boss may not be able to stop the bus, so they will jump out in front of it and take the hit directly.
  3. They play chess not checkers. Great bosses recognize what is unique about each team member, knowing each person’s strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes.  Unforgettable bosses use these insights to draw the very best from each person.
  4. They are who they are, all the time. Their team doesn’t have to spend the energy trying to figure out what their motives are.  Great bosses don’t hide things they have the freedom to disclose, they share information and knowledge.
  5. They are a port in the storm. They don’t get rattled.  They keep cool under pressure.
  6. They are human. Great bosses are personable, easy to relate to, warm, and know their team members have emotions.  They related to their team as people first, a boss second.
  7. They are humble. They openly address their mistakes.  These bosses don’t believe they are above anyone or anything.

For many great bosses they think about what they could do to help their people succeed, not what their people could do for them.

Forbes, 10/15/2016, “7 Things That Make Great Bosses Unforgettable”, by Travis Bradberry