You have suffered a severe illness, disease, or injury that has caused you to be away from work on long-term disability (LTD). In addition to dealing with your ongoing health issues and the resulting changes to your life, you are probably stressed out over whether you may lose your job while you recover. If you have suspicions that this may happen, talk with a long-term disability insurance claims lawyer.
It used to be commonplace for an employer to fire an employee who did not come back to work after exhausting his or her employer-provided leave, like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. A boss would also routinely terminate an employee who qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or long-term disability (LTD).
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) began filing lawsuits a few years ago against employers for these actions, arguing that employers must make reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC alleges that automatic terminations in these situations are examples of the failure to make the required reasonable accommodations. The ADA says that employers have to engage in a good faith interactive process with an employee who has requested an accommodation and put the boss on notice of a disability.
After the employee notifies his employer of a disability and asks for an accommodation, the boss then has to take the reins. The employer must request the information, such as medical records, necessary to go through the interactive process. The employer probably will not have to provide extended leave time for an employee whose medical records indicate he will be able to come back to work in the future. If the employee cannot currently come back to work, regardless of accommodations, but might be able to do so in the future, employers should provide extended medical leave as long as doing so would not cause the employer undue hardship.
The employer should not automatically assume that an employee will never be able to come back to work after he has qualified for SSDI or LTD. She should keep in mind that her employee may have additional protections under the ADA.
Traditionally, being on long-term disability (LTD) only protected your right to income for a period of time. It did not guarantee that your job would sit there waiting for you until you might return one day. If, however, you are out on LTD and you also fit within the protections of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you do have some extra protections. And now that the EEOC is taking action to protect your rights under the ADA, your position may be more secure than before.
You should contact the EEOC to make sure you comply with the procedures and deadlines your local EEOC office follows. Notify your employer in writing that you have a disability and request accommodation. Cooperate fully and promptly with all requests by your employer for exchange of information, and participate in the interactive process.
If have been fired while on long-term disability and would like to speak with an attorney, call us to arrange a free consultation.