Disabled while on probation

Two weeks before the end of his 60-day probationary period, Bill Fallon, a maintenance department trainee, learned he would have to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.
By Raymond Dreyfack April 1, 1999

Two weeks before the end of his 60-day probationary period, Bill Fallon, a maintenance department trainee, learned he would have to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.

“This will put me out of commission for a month or so,” he told Maintenance Foreman Charley Grimes. “I’d like to apply for an unpaid leave of absence.”

“Sorry,” his boss replied, “I’ll have to turn you down.”

“I can’t see why,” Fallon persisted. “The contract says an employee who’s hit with a health emergency has the right to apply for medical leave.”

“True, but that only applies to regular employees; you’re still on probation.”

Fallon refused to give up. “What about my rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). My knee problem is certainly a disability.”

“Maybe so, but that also applies only to established, workers. You don’t qualify.”

“We’ll see about that,” Fallon replied darkly.

Question: Is Fallon entitled to the medical leave he requests?

Bell’s response: When Grimes spelled out his run-in with Fallon to Forest Bell, the plant engineer supported his position. “Not only is Fallon disqualified for medical leave as a probationary employee, he’s also disqualified under ADA because his injury cannot be classified as permanent. His disability isn’t of sufficient duration to fulfill ADA requirements. I’d suggest you invite Fallon to reapply for employment again after he recovers from his knee surgery.”