Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Jan 27, 2015

CALIFORNIA: Indefinite leave of absence is not required under FEHA

DisabilityLeave Laws 

A federal district court recently ruled that a California employer wasn’t required to grant indefinite leave for an individual with a disability.

A federal district court recently ruled that a California employer wasn’t required to grant indefinite leave for an individual with a disability. Over the course of a year and a half, a sales clerk who injured her foot at work was provided with multiple accommodations consistent with the doctor’s restrictions, including a leave of absence, a modified duty position, an employer-provided scooter, and finally eight consecutive months of additional leave. The employee was eventually terminated when the doctor indicated that he was “unable to give a return date in the reasonably foreseeable future as leave is indefinite.” The employee sued, alleging a laundry list of claims including failure to accommodate her medical disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The court agreed with the employer that the accommodations they had provided were reasonable and they were not required to provide an indefinite leave of absence. The court then dismissed the accommodation claims (Dezham v. Macy’s West Stores, Inc. CD Cal, Jan. 2015).

Tips: An indefinite leave is not a required accommodation under state or federal law. But take note that in this case the employer had made multiple efforts to accommodate the employee and did not jump to termination immediately at the end of her leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For assistance in evaluating a disability situation, see our Legal Guides, “At A Glance: Americans with Disabilities Act” and “ADA: Reasonable Accommodation and the Interactive Process”, or contact your Vigilant employment attorney.

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