Legal and Practical Implications

Brecher and Young presenting best practices on reasonable accommodations
Legal and Practical Implications
Friday, June 24, 2011

Susan Brecher and Judy Young present "The Interplay Between Reasonable Accommodations and Medical Leaves: Legal and Practical Implications" on Monday at the annual conference of the Society of Human Resource Management in Las Vegas, Nev.

"This topic is especially pertinent in light of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's current examination of the use of leave as a reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities," Young said.

She is assistant director of training and development at ILR's Employment and Disability Institute. Young is also project manager of the National Employer Technical Assistance Center, which operates the Employer Assistance and Resource Network call center and website.

Brecher, an attorney, is director of ILR's Human Capital Development, Employment Law Programs. 

As a result of the broadened definition of a person with disabilities under The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, focus of the law has shifted, Brecher said.

The emphasis is on the interactive process which is required when people with disabilities seek reasonable accommodations in order to perform essential functions of their jobs, she said.

Reasonable accommodations can include leaves of absence—including those longer than workplace-sanctioned days off for employees.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information about the June 8 commission meeting on the issue is available at

According to Equal Opportunity Commissioner Victoria Lipnic, "Managing situations where employees need leave for medical conditions is one of the most vexing issues for both employers and employees."

Through a case study presented in Las Vegas, Brecher and Young will discuss best practices relating to the overlap between reasonable accommodations, as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The leave act provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year and requires that group health benefits be maintained during that time.