Do 100 Percent Healed Policies Violate the ADA?

Can an employer require an employee to be 100 percent healed before returning to work from medical or disability leave? Almost all circuit and district courts find “fully healed” policies to be a per se violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (the ADA). Although somewhat of an oversimplification, these courts have reasoned that in requiring employees to be 100 percent healed as a condition of returning to work, employers are not making an individualized determination about whether the employees can perform the essential functions of the job—with or without a reasonable accommodation—and, thus, regard such employees as being disabled. In direct contrast to other federal courts, the Tenth Circuit in, Dillon v. Mt. Coal, L.L.C., held that a 100 percent healed policy did not violate the ADA. Specifically, the court held that the employer’s no-restrictions policy did not, by itself, indicate that the employer regarded the employee as disabled.