BIZ TIPS: Temporary Injuries Aren’t Disabilities Under the ADA

(Business Management Daily/TNS) —

As an employer, don’t assume that every injury is a disability. Many times, injuries heal within a few weeks or months with proper treatment and don’t end up as disabilities protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The treatment phase may require leave, as stipulated by the Family and Medical Leave Act, because the injury is a serious health condition. However, unless the injury substantially impairs a major life function, it doesn’t qualify as disabling under the ADA.

Recent case: Claude slipped and fell in a stairwell at work. He injured his right knee and was out on medical leave for several months. When he returned, his employer discharged him.

Claude sued, alleging that he had been fired because of his new disability. But the court tossed out his lawsuit after concluding that his knee injury, which was treated with physical therapy, didn’t substantially impair a major life function. It was temporary.

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