A former employee’s ADA claim that he was terminated unlawfully pursuant to a “Maximum Medical Leave of Absence Termination Policy” –an “inflexible blanket policy,” he called it –-was rejected because he was unable to return to his job at the end of his leave, did not request a transfer to a job he could perform, and did not apply for a leave extension before his leave had expired. Cash v. Siegel-Robert, Inc. (6th Cir. December 3, 2013). The court affirmed summary judgment for the employer.
The employer’s leave policy said that an employee who is unable to perform the essential functions of his position, with or without accommodation, or another position the employer may offer, would be “automatically terminated” after six months of leave. The policy added that an employee may request an extension of leave but that such request must be made before termination would be effective. With an extension request, the employee must provide medical documentation ”demonstrating that the employee will be able to return to work, with or without reasonable accommodation, on a date certain within a reasonable time after termination would otherwise take effect.”
When the plaintiff brought the company his return to work paperwork, the company told him it had terminated him three days earlier, when his six month leave had expired.
After the lawsuit was filed, the employer adopted a new policy of sending a certified letter to an employee who is nearing the end of a medical leave of absence, noting the date the leave will expire and instructions for requesting an extension if needed. The company argued that evidence of this “subsequent remedial measure” should not be admissible. Since the court granted summary judgment to the employer, it did not address this issue.