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Court Rules that Accommodations for Indefinite Leave are Not Reasonable

An Appellate Court in Connecticut recently ruled that a reasonable accommodation for medical leave does not require employers to wait indefinitely for an employee’s medical condition to resolve itself. In the case of Thomson v. Department of Social Services, the plaintiff informed her employer that she would be taking a leave of absence from her work, but did not provide her employer with a time frame for her return. She also did not respond to her employer’s subsequent attempts to reach out to her in order to determine when she planned to return.

According to the Court, this employee essentially asked her employer to hold her position open for her indefinitely while she attempted to recover. The Court, relying on federal laws, found that this was not a reasonable accommodation request. The plaintiff, according to the Court, could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination on these facts.

The employee informed her supervisor that she would be taking “over thirty days” leave depending on whether the lung condition resolved itself. And during a deposition, she confirmed that she did not know how long she was going to be out of work to recover from her health condition.

At the time she left her employment to take leave, the employee filled out a number of forms for her employer. The information she listed on these forms was incoherent and confusing. Her employer even reached out to her by certified mail for additional information, and did not receive a response. When the time came that she was required to submit further information and did not, her employer terminated her. The Court upheld the termination, because the accommodation that she requested was deemed unreasonable.

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