Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Employee Who Did Not Reveal Depression Treatment to Employer Has No Rights Under FMLA or ADA

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the district court's grant of summary judgment for the employer of an employee who sued alleging his forced resignation interfered with or denied his rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act and discriminated against him on account of disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

The former employee, Michael Kobus, was diagnosed with depression and was prescribed the antidepressant Paxil. However, he did not disclose this to his supervisor, saying, instead, he was suffering from stress and anxiety. Because of this the supervisor placed the College’s “Request for Family Medical Leave” form in Kobus’s mailbox at the College and told him he could apply for FMLA leave if he had a serious medical condition. In response, Kobus told the supervisor, “I didn’t need any leave. Not just FMLA; any leave.” The Court noted this outright refusal and found the employer just in terminating the employee for excessive absenteeism.

The same applied to the former employee's ADA and MHRA claim because the employee failed to inform his employer he needed an accommodation. The employee attempted to cite the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Enforcement Guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Psychiatric Disabilities in support of his claim because the guide instructs that an employee’s request for time off because he is “depressed or stressed” is “sufficient to put the employer on notice that the employee is requesting reasonable accommodation.” This citation was rejected because the Court held: “None of our prior ADA notice cases cited the Enforcement Guidance as controlling …. Instead, those cases apply the requirement in the regulations that an employee 'inform the employer that an accommodation is needed.’”

The case is Kobus v. The College of St. Scholastica, Inc., No. 09-1583 (8th Cir. June 21, 2010).

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