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Returning to work after being on a long term leave of absence
Mar 11, 2004

I left my employer in 1990 (yes, that's right 14 yrs ago) to go on LTD and they allow me to remain on a long term leave of absence as long as I collect long term disability. When I left it was thier policy per thier manual to take back employees when their disability ended if they had a position available. In 1992 I tried to go back but they said they had no jobs available in my area which may have been true--we were at the height of a recession and they told me I would be better off just staying out on ltd. In the meantime I have gone back to school and I am now qualified for many of the positions they advertise available on thier website. Do I have any legal rights to get my job back? Is there anything in the ADA that protects me? Do they have to accomodate me? I would like to stay with this employer because the benefits are so good but if I contact them I am afraid they will tell me they don't have anything available.

Response from Ms. Breuer

For fourteen years, you have been drawing LTD benefits. If they're self-insured, they've been paying you all these years. I encourage you to contact the HR director personally, explain that you have added to your skill set in the interim and would like to apply for a particular job, and request an application form and interview. Be positive and excited.

Your job as it existed then doesn't exist anymore. That would be true for any corporate job right now. People who head the various functions there have no doubt moved around, and it will be like applying all over again. I can't answer particular questions about their rights because I don't know their policy. But you are smart to seek to return to your own employer after LTD.

Just be sure that you're protected in the event that your health deteriorates before new coverage under the LTD policy (do they even have the same carrier now?) kicks in. Don't return to work until you negotiate a return to disability status if something takes a bad turn.

As to accommodation, I assume you're referring to accommodating your disability in some specific way. What the ADA requires them to do is to seek to accommodate you. It depends on what you and your health care provider agree you would need to be able to fulfill the essential functions of the job. Don't bring up accommodation unless you need one--a specific, well thought-through one--to be able to do the job. Good luck!



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