Providing Temporary Accommodations for Employee Disability
It’s never easy to navigate the legal requirements when an employee has a medical condition or disability. One of the many complications is providing a “reasonable accommodation,” a process that often requires significant time and careful consideration of how and what medical information can be obtained and scrutinized.
In providing accommodations, some employers hesitate to relieve employees from certain “essential job functions” temporarily while the employee is recovering from a medical condition, or while it’s unclear how long a condition will last. Based on the First Circuit’s decision in Jones v. Walgreens, Inc., et al., however, relieving an employee temporarily from certain “essential job functions” does not require the employer to permanently eliminate those essential job functions from the employee’s job.
In Jones, plaintiff-employee Jones, a Walgreens store manager, had been on several leaves of absence from January 2004 to October 2005 after suffering a knee injury when she slipped on ice outside Walgreens’ office. In her second leave of absence, Jones indicated that she hoped to return to work with “reasonable accommodations.” Walgreens welcomed her back to work with some physical lifting, bending, squatting and twisting limitations. Twenty-two months later, in October 2005, Walgreens offered her … Keep reading