On February 1, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit alleging that Tennessee-based West Meade Place LLP violated the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”) when it denied an employee’s requested leave as a reasonable accommodation for her anxiety disorder. The employer subsequently discharged the employee when she did not provide a note from her physician, that cleared her to work without restrictions, within 36 hours after she requested the accommodation. According to the EEOC, the employer refused to grant the employee’s request because she had been employed for merely 9 months, and the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) did not apply to her.
This case should serve as a reminder (or perhaps a wake-up call) that an employer who automatically denies an employee’s request for leave, even where the employee is not yet eligible for FMLA leave, could risk increased exposure to claims of ADA violations, and the EEOC may not be hitting snooze.