From the Hotline: ADA Interaction with FMLA
Question: If an employee is not eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave but was approved for an unpaid personal leave due to a medical emergency, are they also covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
Answer: There may be a requirement for interaction under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions to qualify. Under the ADA, if the employee has a disability defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, the employee would be considered protected under the ADA.
Generally impairments that last only for a short period of time are typically not covered, although they may be covered if sufficiently severe.
The definition of disability is an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. When determining whether an employee has a disability, you need to know:
- Does the employee have an impairment? If yes,
- Does the impairment affect a major life activity? If yes,
- Does the impairment substantially limit the major life activity?
Remember, the definition of disability is now very broad so if you are not sure whether an employee has a disability, best practice is to err on the side of caution and process a leave accommodation request when reasonable.