We came across the article, “Employee’s Request for Leave Triggered ADA Accommodation Obligations,” by Johnathan M. Crotty, on parkerpoe.com. This article discusses the lawsuit, Garrison v. Dolgencorp, LLC, in which the plaintiff sued her employer under the ADA and FMLA. The plaintiff had requested a leave of absence due to migraines and depression, but her manager stated that he didn’t believe that she qualified under the law. He did not properly handle her request, and instead left her no choice but to either work or quit to take care of herself.
The plaintiff believed that her employer failed to comply with the ADA and FMLA. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that the plaintiffs right for a leave of absence was covered by the ADA. On the other hand, it was determined that she did not qualify for FMLA leave because she had failed to follow proper documentation procedures laid out by her employer.
Garrison v. Dolgencorp, LLC, serves as a reminder to familiarize yourself with laws that protect employees with disabilities. Although the plaintiff was fairly denied leave under FMLA, she was still covered by the ADA. It is clear that employers must reference both acts before denying a leave of absence for employers who are sick or disabled. Failure to properly analyze each request may result in litigation.
Employers can limit their risk for litigation by defining clear procedures for requesting and processing leaves of absence. People at all levels of the organization should be familiar with both processes as well as their rights under ADA and FMLA. When employees’ believe that their rights are being violated, there should be a clear process for reporting concerns. The use of an ethics hotline and case management system can ensure that employees are heard and that their concerns are properly and efficiently addressed internally.