In the case of Wheat v. Columbus Bd. of Edn., 6th Cir. 15-3824, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4988, a school employee suffered an on-the-job injury leaving her with constant pain. The employee took an unpaid leave of absence not to exceed two successive school years. When the employee did not return to work after her two-year leave of absence expired, she was terminated by the school board.
A federal appeals court upheld the termination because the school board had a policy of terminating all employees who exceeded the leave limit and the employee never asked for an accommodation within the two-year time frame.
This case demonstrates that employers can move to terminate employees who exceed their medical leave limits if (1) the employer has a neutral policy of terminating all such employees and (2) there is not an accommodation that would allow the employee to return to work.
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Authors: Matthew John Markling and Patrick Vrobel