Guideline on Too Much Leave


Is 6 months’ leave a reasonable accommodation? “Unsurprisingly, the answer is almost always no,” says the Tenth Circuit. Hwang v. Kansas State University, No. 13-3070 (10th Cir. May 29, 2014). Applying the Rehabilitation Act (which mirrors the ADA but applies to federal government employment and organizations receiving federal financial assistance), the court considered the case of an employee on a one-year contract who had taken six months’ leave for cancer treatment. After exhausting all leave available under the employer’s policies, the employee asked for more. The employer denied the request and discharged her because she could not yet return to work. The employee sued, claiming the employer failed to provide a reasonable accommodation.

The court began with the obvious – a medical leave might enable an employee to perform his or her job following the leave, and most employees are allowed to miss some work for illness; so some leave may be a reasonable accommodation. However, finding the outer limit of “reasonable” leave is another question. Factors to consider include the employee’s duties, the nature and length of the leave requested, and the impact the leave will have on other employees. The court ruled that, in most cases, a leave of six months or more will not be reasonable; an absence of six months is (usually) inconsistent with performing a job’s essential functions.


Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Sherman & Howard L.L.C. | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.