Seventh Circuit Holds Extended Leave Not Required by ADA

Sep 29, 2017

Seventh Circuit ~ The Case Decision Summary

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A recent decision by the Chicago‐based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit provides employers some welcome guidance on the extent to which a disability leave of absence may be required as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The decision declares that the ADA is “not a medical leave entitlement.”

The Facts

Raymond Severson worked in a physically demanding job for Heartland Woodcraft, Inc. Severson had experienced back pain since 2005, and in 2010 he was diagnosed with back myelopathy caused by impaired functioning and degenerative changes in his back, neck, and spinal cord. Normally this condition did not impact his ability to work, but occasionally he experienced severe flareups which did.

Over the years at Heartland, Severson was promoted from supervisor to shop superintendent to operations manager. In the latter position, however, he did not perform well. As a result, in early June 2013, Heartland moved him to a second shift “lead” position. In that job, Severson was to perform manual labor, operate and troubleshoot production equipment, and frequently lift materials and products weighing 50 pounds or more. Severson never worked a day in the new “lead” position because at the same time he wrenched his back at home, aggravating his pre‐existing condition. He then sought and was approved for a 12‐week medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

What Happened Next

To view the complete article, including the remaining case facts that prompted the legal action and full details of the Seventh Circuit’s decision, please click here.

Steve Brenneman HeadshotThis article was written by Steven L. Brenneman who is a partner at Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll LLP and an editor of the Illinois Employment Law Letter. He can be reached at [email protected].

This Employment Law Alert is intended to provide general information regarding developments in the law. It is not intended to constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.