Employers often believe that their obligations to afford leave to employees with physical conditions is governed exclusively by the Family Medical Leave Act. As such, when leave under that Act is expended, and the employee unable to return to work, employers believe that they are free to terminate those employees.
Employers must be aware that at least one other important source of law affects the leave question. Once FMLA leave is exhausted, employers must THEN consider whether additional leave is warranted as a reasonable accomodation to a qualified person with a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The EEOC issued new guidance on May 9, 2016 and it can be found here. While a full review of this guidance is imperative, once FMLA is exhausted an employer must consider whether the employee has a disability within the meaning of the the ADA, whether the employee believes that additional leave is needed as an accomodation, and if so, whether the leave requested is reasonable, which in turn depends upon whether unpaid leave would cause undue hardship to the employer.