Dear Rita in HR:
I have one employee who has not come to work for more than a year due to a disability of back pain. But our HR director says I can't terminate him because he is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a result, I can't hire anyone into the job permanently since at any moment I would have to give the job back to this person who's been gone for a year. Is our HR director right that we can't terminate this absent staffperson?
I sympathize with your frustration! You are not alone in being confused and aggravated. Basically, the ADA prohibits discrimination against "qualified individuals": disabled employees who can perform the essential functions of the job with (or without) reasonable accommodation)
The legal question is whether an employee who is unable to come to work can still be qualified to perform . . .