How long is too long, when an employee requests leave for medical reasons? Employers have received welcome guidance from the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on this question. In Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc., No. 15-3754 (7th Cir. Sept. 20, 2017), the Seventh Circuit held that a request for a two to three month leave of absence is not a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is as close to a bright-line rule as could be hoped for in this all too murky area of ADA law.

Continue Reading Two to Three Month Leave of Absence Not a Reasonable Accommodation, 7th Circuit Holds

Beginning on March 27, 2015, individuals in lawful same-sex marriages will be entitled to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for their same-sex spouses regardless of the state in which they reside.

The FMLA requires employers to give eligible employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for the employee’s own serious medical condition, or the serious health condition of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent.

Historically, same-sex married couples were not entitled to FMLA benefits because Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) limited the definition of “spouse” to persons of the opposite sex who are a husband or a wife. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) interpreted the definition of spouse in the FMLA to include same-sex married couples domiciled in a state that recognized same-sex marriage. However, same-sex couples who lived in a state that did not recognize same-sex marriage were not eligible for FMLA leave to care for their same-sex spouse under this rule. Continue Reading FMLA Expanded To Include All Same-Sex Married Couples

In a case that will prompt many employers to double-check their leave of absence policies, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has held that an employee who was not eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) might nonetheless be able to prove entitlement to FMLA benefits due to the FMLA language in the employer’s employee handbook. Tilley v. Kalamazoo Country Road Commission, et. al., No. 14-1679 (6th Cir. January 26, 2015). Continue Reading Misleading FMLA Policy in Employee Handbook Dooms Employer Defense to FMLA Claim