May an employer require an employee to provide medical documentation before returning from leave?


Lydia is a newspaper reporter who has been on leave for two months because of complications stemming from her diabetes. She notified you that she will be able to return to work in two weeks but will need a flexible schedule. Can you ask for a doctor's note or some other documentation addressing any work limitations before allowing her to return to work?


Yes. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if an employer has a reasonable belief that an employee may be unable to perform her job or may pose a direct threat to herself or others, the employer may ask for medical information. However, the employer may only obtain the information needed to make an assessment of the employee's present ability to perform her job and to do so safely. In this instance, because the reporter's job frequently requires her to meet short deadlines, the employer may ask her to provide a doctor's note or other documentation indicating whether there are any limits on how many hours a day she can work

Source: EEOC Guidance: Questions and Answers about Diabetes in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),; reported in Employment Practices Guide, New Developments 5372.

[ Return to top of document ]