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U4 Journal Entry
Some employers must provide unpaid leave for family- and medical-related reasons under the
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Paid leave is not required by federal law; however, it is
required by some state and local laws.
Have you or someone you know ever experienced a situation where there was a need for
unpaid family leave? (If not, imagine you are now in that situation in your current workplace.)
Did you agree with the policy that was in place at the time? Why, or why not? As you describe
and reflect on the situation, your reaction, and rationale, consider the impact of unpaid family
leave laws on the employer. Does it alter your perspective?
Resources
For more, review: U.S. Airways, Inc. v. Barnett (2002). Oyez. Retrieved
from https://www.oyez.org/cases/2001/00-1250
Disability Accommodation under the ADA Checklist. (2014). American Bar ssociation. Retrieved
from:
https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/events/labor_law/am/2014/1h_disability_accomm
odation.authcheckdam.pdf
Also, review the elements for a prima facie case of failure to reasonably accommodate religion:
http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/foia/letters/2004/titlevii_religious_expression.html
Your journal entry must be at least 200 words. No references or citations are necessary.
Unit IV Case Study
Analyze the case and opinion in Keith v. County of Oakland, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 595 (6th
Cir.) located in your textbook on pp. 350-355.
Write a case study review of Judge Griffin’s opinion that answers the questions below. Support
your review with analysis and evidence from the unit reading and outside sources.
What are the legal issues presented in this case? Did the plaintiff establish a valid claim of
failure to reasonably accommodate? What did the appeals court decide?
What accommodations was Keith requesting? Was it reasonable? Support your opinion with an
argument based on the course concepts and existing legal evidence or precedents.
Did the county follow the interactive process required by the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA)? What did they do well? What could they have done differently?
You are required to use a minimum of three sources for your case study. All sources used must
be referenced; paraphrased and quoted material must have accompanying citations.
Your paper should be a minimum of two pages, not including the title and reference pages,
and should follow APA style.
UNIT IV STUDY GUIDE
Reasonable Accommodation
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit IV
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
4. Characterize conduct that violates federal anti-discrimination laws in employment.
4.1 Analyze the requirements a plaintiff must establish to make a claim of failure to reasonably
accommodate.
5. Explain the concept of reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
5.1 Discuss the interactive process required by the ADA and the employer duty to reasonably
accommodate disabilities.
5.2 Describe reasonable accommodations for a given scenario.
Course/Unit
Learning Outcomes
4.1
5.1
5.2
Learning Activity
Unit Lesson
Chapter 10
Unit IV Case Study
Unit Lesson
Chapter 10
Unit IV Case Study
Unit Lesson
Chapter 10
Unit IV Case Study
Reading Assignment
Chapter 10:
Reasonably Accommodating Disability and Religion, pp. 337–377
Unit Lesson
Simply prohibiting discrimination was insufficient for full protection of religion as a protected category. The
Civil Rights Act of 1964 therefore included a requirement that employers reasonably accommodate religious
observance and practice, unless an employer can show that accommodation would be an undue hardship on
the business. This requirement contributes to a diverse workplace, enabling workers who might otherwise not
meet certain workplace requirements to earn a living. In the Supreme Court’s decision in EEOC v.
Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. (1993), the Court found that the retailer could not refuse a Muslim woman
wearing a headscarf for religious reasons even if it clashed with the store’s dress code. They further found
that the employee did not specifically have to state the headscarf was required by her religious faith and ask
to be accommodated. The court found that if the employer at least suspected that the scarf was religious in its
purpose, it must accommodate.
Reasonable accommodation appeared again in employment law when the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) passed in 1991. It became the cornerstone of workplace disability guidance. In 2008 the ADA
Amendments Act (ADAAA) further expanded and more clearly defined conditions that qualify as disabilities
and shifted the focus from the applicant or employee to the employer and its actions to assist that individual to
enable him or her to work (Walsh, 2016). In the area of religion, reasonable accommodation boosts diversity
in the workforce by breaking down barriers to workers who have the skills and abilities to be productive.
MHR 6401, Employment Law
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In 1994, Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide
unpaid
leave GUIDE
for the
UNIT
x STUDY
employee’s own serious medical condition, to care for a close relative with a serious
Title health condition, and for
the birth of a child (Walsh, 2016). While serious health condition is not synonymous with disability, there is
some overlap and the potential for complex situations exists when overlap occurs.
While FMLA addressed a specific need for short-term leave in defined situations for employees who could
heal and get back to work relatively quickly, it did not address situations where longer leaves are needed by
disabled employees. Thus, in the period after the ADAAA was passed in 2008, the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) turned its attention to employer leave policies that it finds operate as
obstacles to accommodating disabled workers. In one of its biggest cases, the EEOC claimed that Verizon
violated the ADA by refusing to make exceptions to its no fault attendance policy to accommodate employees
with disabilities. Under the company’s policy, after an employee accumulated a defined number of chargeable
absences, he or she was placed on a disciplinary step, which could lead to more serious discipline, including
termination. Verizon settled the case for $20 million and agreed to revise its attendance plans and policies,
provide mandatory training for employees responsible for administering these plans and policies, and report
employee complaints of disability discrimination to the EEOC (EEOC, 2011). The agency has also targeted
workers’ compensation leave exhaustion policies and maximum leave periods on the same theory – that they
unlawfully restrict the use of leave as a reasonable accommodation.
Despite the efforts of the ADA, unemployment remains high among disabled Americans. According to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2016), the unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 10.7 percent
in 2015, approximately double the 5.1 percent unemployment rate of those with no disability. Moreover,
EEOC (n.d.) data showed that disability discrimination charges reached an all-time high in 2015, an increase
of six percent from 2014.
In 2016, the EEOC released a resource to address issues surrounding leave from the workplace as a
reasonable accommodation (EEOC, 2016). The document, entitled Employer-Provided Leave and the
Americans with Disabilities Act, addresses a number of issues, and provides specific examples to illustrate
how policies can unreasonably restrict leave and how it can instead be modified to accommodate disabled
employees. In addressing how the ADA intersects with the FMLA, the EEOC reminds employers that an
employee may be eligible for leave under the ADA even if he or she is not eligible for Family and Medical
Leave or has exhausted leave under that law (EEOC, 2016). Nevertheless, an employer may take into
account leave taken under the FMLA in determining whether additional leave would be an undue hardship.
The EEOC resource makes clear that inflexible policies that cap leave at a specific amount of time, no fault
policies that count every absence the same way, and 100 percent healed policies that require employees to
certify that they have no work restrictions do not comply with the ADA.
At the same time, the EEOC does not leave employers without means to work through what are often thorny
situations. Indefinite leave is not required as a reasonable accommodation. To assess leave that is required,
employers may communicate with employees on leave to inquire about their status, potential need for
additional leave, and the likelihood of returning to work after any additional leave (EEOC, 2016). Further,
employers should consider reassigning an employee to an open position for which he or she is qualified as an
accommodation when the employee is unable to return to his or her current role.
A recent investigation of a concern by an employee illustrated the ways in which the FMLA and ADA can
intersect and the traps into which employers can fall. An employee who was being counselled for attendance
and was on the verge of termination reported that she believed she was being treated unfairly because her
absences and tardiness were for physical therapy and other medical appointments and for personal legal
matters. She had used all her paid time off and received subsequent performance counseling for taking time
in excess of her paid time off.
This case presented a complex array of issues: reasonable accommodation of potential physical and mental
disabilities, leave under the FMLA, and policies on attendance and tardiness. The employee’s managers
believed that she had exceeded her allowed time off and violated the employer’s policy, and therefore, the
issue warranted discipline. This approach, however, placed the employer at risk of a charge of discrimination
under the ADA and a charge of violating the FMLA. To evaluate the employee’s claim, it had to be determined
whether she had informed her management that her absences were related to a medical condition that was
protected (and the information gathered showed that she had). Next, each of the absences and tardiness in
the period covered by the potential discipline required individual review to determine whether the absence or
MHR 6401, Employment Law
2
tardiness was for a protected reason under the ADA or FMLA. If so, then the absence
could not
be
UNIT x STUDY
GUIDE
considered for purposes of any discipline.
Title
This could have been avoided had the managers had recognized that the employee was taking time off for
potentially protected reasons and was seeking an accommodation to the employer’s policies or FMLA
intermittent leave for medical treatment. Instead, the managers involved focused on the inconvenience of the
employee’s absences and their questions about the validity of her absences and failed to seek human
resources guidance to navigate what in reality was a complex situation, which to them seemed a simple case
of excessive absenteeism.
The message to employers is meant to be clear and unequivocal. The standard is that employers must
carefully evaluate situations involving accommodation of employee and applicant disabilities. Policies and
practices should be routinely reviewed, and revised as needed, to ensure reasonable accommodation of all
disabled workers. With regard to attendance policies in particular, they should include the ability to excuse
absences under the ADA, FMLA, and state and local laws that provide for leave. Those responsible for
administration of policies and procedures must consider modifications of policies and practices when
situations arise that would impose discipline or some other adverse action on an employee for absences
caused by a protected disability. They must also consider exceptions to regular practices when such an
exception may constitute a reasonable accommodation.
Accurate and thorough documentation of all requests for accommodation and all responses by the employer
are very important. Employers should document the duties of the position in question, the ability to assign the
disabled employee’s responsibilities to others, and the need for and cost of replacement workers. Above all,
employers must realize there is no “one size fits all” solution in this difficult area. In each situation,
accommodation must be reviewed and implemented based on the individual and sometimes unique facts of
each particular case.
References
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016, July 21). Persons with a disability: Labor force characteristics summary
[News release]. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm
EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., 731 F.3d 1106 (U.S. 2015).
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d.). Charge statistics (Charges filed with EEOC) FY
1997 through FY 2015. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/charges.cfm
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2011, July 6). Verizon to pay $20 million to settle
nationwide EEOC disability suit [Press release]. Retrieved from
https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/7-6-11a.cfm
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2016, May 9). Employer-provided leave and the
Americans with Disabilities Act. https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/upload/ada-leave.pdf
Walsh, D. J. (2016). Employment law for human resource practice (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Suggested Reading
The following PowerPoint presentations are supplements to the textbook chapter readings and are provided
for further knowledge and review of the unit materials.
Chapter 10:
Click here to access the PowerPoint presentation.
Click here to access a PDF file of the PowerPoint presentation.
MHR 6401, Employment Law
3
Employment law involves many other issues posed by diverse workforces andUNIT
from xissues
that
arise from
STUDY
GUIDE
employee’s work-life conflicts. You are encouraged to read the following chapter
in your textbook to gain
Title
further knowledge in these areas.
Chapter 11:
Work-Life Conflicts and Other Diversity Issues, pp. 381–414
Additionally, view the accompanying Chapter 11 PowerPoint presentation below.
Click here to access the PowerPoint presentation.
Click here to access a PDF file of the PowerPoint presentation.
Learning Activities (Non-Graded)
Non-Graded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to
submit them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.
At the end of each chapter of your textbook, scenario-driven questions provide legal issues and realistic
situations that relate to employment law. Exploring these questions allows you the opportunity to further your
understanding of the concepts in each chapter and prepares you for similar situations you may encounter in
your workplace.
?
?
Review the Chapter 10 questions in your textbook on pages 377–380.
Review the Chapter 11 questions in your textbook on pages 414–416.
MHR 6401, Employment Law
4

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