Please be advised that contacting Ruder Ware by e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you contact the firm by e-mail with respect to a matter where the firm does not already represent you, any information which you disclose to us may not be regarded as privileged or confidential.


Accept   Cancel

Please be advised that contacting Ruder Ware by e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you contact the firm by e-mail with respect to a matter where the firm does not already represent you, any information which you disclose to us may not be regarded as privileged or confidential.


Accept   Cancel

PAL Login

linkedin.jpgyoutube.jpgvimeo.jpgtwitter_off.png View Ruder Ware

Employment Blog

Is Six Months Enough?

Authored by Dean R. Dietrich
Posted on June 6, 2014
Filed under Employment

A recent decision from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has addressed the question whether a six-month leave of absence for a disabled employee is sufficient to satisfy the reasonable accommodation requirement. The Court of Appeals found that Kansas State University satisfied the reasonable accommodation requirements under the Rehabilitation Act when terminating an assistant professor suffering from cancer who had been granted a six-month paid leave of absence while undergoing cancer treatment. The Court found that the Rehabilitation Act did not generally compel an employer to hold a position for a non-performing employee for more than a six-month period.

The Rehabilitation Act is a public sector law similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act. While this is an older law, it has the same concepts and language as found in the Americans with Disabilities Act and its Amendments. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed language from the EEOC manual which holds that an employer did not have to retain a worker who was unable to perform their job functions for more than six months by finding that the timeframe of more than six months was "beyond a reasonable amount of time."

Wisconsin employers must remember that decisions under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act have suggested that employers must show flexibility when considering whether or not to continue the employment status (without pay) of an employee who was undergoing treatment for a medical condition. The limit of six months does not automatically apply in a case involving a Wisconsin employer but it does offer some significant guidance as to what would be considered "reasonable" under the requirement that the employer provide a reasonable accommodation for an otherwise "qualified disabled person." We do not have a decision in Wisconsin that directly speaks to the length of time that an employer must continue the employment status of an employee suffering from a disabling condition but it appears the six month period would meet the standard of being "reasonable" under the circumstances.