Crohn's disease

We have a team member who has been out for almost a full week and part of another week with Crohn's hospitalized overnight during this last week. She's not eligible for FML or disability (as it's a pre-existing condition).

In addition to this, she has had other attendance problems.

What we're wondering about are two things:

1) whether this is considered covered under the ADA and thus not eligible for documentation for disciplinary action and

2) what can we ask about prognosis, expected return to work, etc.?

Thanks for your help!


  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • mbeam,
    From experience with a family member, Crohn's disease is a debilitating illness when it is active. I certainly would consider this as a FMLA qualifing illness with ongoing intermittent leave as needed as against an all out absence. Fact is it never really goes away but can have long periods(years) without a flare up. Give her FMLA qualifing documents for her dr to complete then take it from there.
  • She started here in August so isn't yet eligible for FML. As such, we're wondering what others might suggest for the next step. She'll be out of her PTO time soon and isn't eligible for disability.
  • Do you offer a Medical LOA? Once our employees uses up FMLA, they can have an additional 14 weeks of Med LOA,without pay. Does this employee have STD or LTD? Those appear to be your only options. Otherwise, I see your situation falling under your absentee policy.
  • First of all, reduce your situation to simple facts and available options:

    1. FMLA--The employee is not eligible for FMLA, but you may have an FMLA situation--not so much because of the diagnosis but because FMLA criteria may be met--hospitalizaiton, intermittent medical care. Look for medical certification to help guide you through.

    2. No STD--Does this employee have other time off to take? If so, allow it if your company policy says you can. If it says you can't, then don't allow it.

    3. ADA--Whether or not ADA is applicable is not based on the diagnosis but whether the diagnosis prevents the employee from successfully performing one or more life activities. ADA is case-by-case and generally speaking is not applicable for a short-term diagnosis. Review the regs for definition of life activities.

    4. Can you request a prognosis? Sort of. The 'prognosis' may be none of your business, but if you are trying to determine whether the term the employee, fill the position, or address a short-term staffing gap until the employee returns to work, by all means you can request an expected return to work date and use that information to determine whether allowing the absence to continue is reasonable.

    5. Disciplinary action--Be consistent and within your policy. Hopefully, past absences have been disciplined appropriately. If they were and the discipline was within your policy, why would you consider going back to readdress them now? Let the history be the history and move forward. Your state may have some specific state-level laws that to be considered, but at the federal level FMLA, ADA, and Civil Rights will require that this employee not be treated any differently than others in similar situations.

    Don't let yourself get muddied up in details that prompt emotional response until after you have objectively looked at the facts. Act on the facts.
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