In EEOC v. United Parcel Service Inc., a case pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has taken the position that an employer’s policy to automatically terminate employees who are unable to return to work after 12 months of disability leave violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  The EEOC’s litigation position conflicts with substantial prior case law, including recent appellate decisions from the Eighth and Tenth Circuits holding that the ADA’s reasonable accommodation provision does not require employers to provide indefinite leave to their employees.  The district court has not ruled on the merits of the EEOC’s position, but the court recently allowed the agency to proceed with its claim on a class-wide basis.

The EEOC’s litigation position could affect many employers whose ADA policies prohibit indefinite leave.