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Employees with medical conditions

What to Know About Managing Employees with Medical Conditions

As an employer, you may be inclined to fire an employee for poor performance. But, if they disclose a medical condition, it’s reasonable to consider ways to help them do their job better. Under federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers with medical conditions are protected against discrimination and have the right to reasonable accommodations and unpaid leave. 

If you’re an employer who recently learned of an employee’s medical condition, it may benefit you to understand how to comply with federal and state laws protecting people with disabilities and other health issues. It may also help to work with a Denver employment lawyer to draft a comprehensive company leave policy that protects your business interests while complying with state and federal law.

How the ADA Applies to Colorado Employers

The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA applies nationally to private employers with 15 or more employees. The Act aims to provide people with disabilities the same protections against discrimination and harassment that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides to those on the basis of sex, gender, race, nationality, and religion. 

Under the ADA, employers must engage in an interactive process with and provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. Employers must determine whether the employee’s disability is protected by the law, the extent of the disability, and what would constitute a reasonable accommodation for the employee. A reasonable accommodation should help the employee work more efficiently and continue to contribute to the team.

The ADA does not force employers to provide reasonable accommodations if doing so would impose an undue hardship on the business or present a risk to the health and/or safety of the employee who requests the accommodation or other employees. 

What is an “interactive process”?

An interactive process is a good-faith exchange of information between the worker who has a disability and their employer. This discussion allows both parties to discuss important terms and explore the necessity of reasonable workplace accommodations. It allows employers and employees to brainstorm possible solutions for accommodations. The employee’s healthcare provider may also contribute to the conversation by providing the employer with information about the employee’s medical condition.

A reasonable accommodation should not impose an unfair financial burden on the employer. Examples of reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Providing a special computer monitor to an employee with impaired vision
  • Providing technology to an employee who is deaf that allows him to participate in company meetings
  • Allowing an employee with a mental health condition to work from home
  • Providing leave 

Medical Conditions Protected by the ADA

Some of the most common medical conditions for which employers may provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA are:

  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • HIV infection
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Partial or completely missing limbs
  • Mobility impairments
  • Epilepsy
  • Intellectual disabilities

What to Know About the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA applies to employees who have worked for a company for at least one year, have worked for at least 1,250 hours in the last year, and work at a location with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

Eligible employees who can’t work due to a serious medical condition may take 12 weeks of job-protected and unpaid leave in a 52-week period. Job-protected leave means that when an employee returns from his or her 12-week leave, he or she may expect to return to their position or a similar role at the same or similar level of compensation. The FMLA prohibits employers from firing workers who take leave to which they’re entitled by law.

Create a Company Leave Policy with the Davidovich Law Firm

Are you ready to construct a solid company leave policy that protects the interests of your company and employees? If you’re not sure where to begin and what federal and state laws may apply, talk to attorney Nathan Davidovich of the Davidovich Law Firm LLC. 

Nathan has helped employees and employers in Colorado resolve crucial employment matters for more than 55 years. He is an experienced litigation lawyer who handles employment cases efficiently and professionally. As a member of the National Association of Employment Lawyers, you can count on him to ensure your leave policies meet all state and federal laws while protecting your business interests. Call (303) 825-5529 or complete our contact form.