Return to Work after Medical Leave Should be Based on Objective Criteria
By: Rudman Winchell Attorney Anne-Marie Storey
A recent settlement with the EEOC highlights the dangers of presuming restrictions on an employee’s ability to work.
The employer, Fidelity Engineering Corporation, agreed to pay the amount of $88,500 as well as provide equitable relief to settle a
disability and retaliation claim brought under the ADA.
In the case, the employee was a sheet metal mechanic who underwent heart valve replacement surgery.
He was ultimately released by his physician to return to work with no restrictions.
However, Fidelity made the judgment that it was “too risky”
to return him to regular duty, terminated him, and refused to later rehire him for the same type of job.
The EEOC’s position was that the employee could have
returned to his regular position without posing a health or safety risk to
himself or others and that the employer’s refusal to return him to that work
and refusal to provide him with reassignment to a vacant position constituted
While it can be tempting for an employer to want to use its
own judgment about what an employee can or cannot do following a medical leave,
this case is a good reminder that such substitution of judgment in
contradiction to medical releases can violate the ADA and be quite costly.
For more information please contact Anne-Marie Storey at email@example.com