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Other types of leave — Arizona

A key consideration in administering a leave of absence program is consistency. Personal leaves of absence are granted at the company’s discretion. Granting a leave request from one employee, while denying a request from another similarly situated employee, can lead to claims of disparate treatment. Where the employee whose leave request was denied falls within a protected category, the disparate treatment could lead to a claim of unlawful discrimination. Even where issues of unlawful discrimination are not present, a failure to consistently administer a program for leave requests can lead to a perception of unfair treatment and subsequent morale problems. Likewise, where an employee can argue that a company’s leave of absence program constitutes a contract, a failure to adhere to the program could give rise to a breach of contract claim.

Consistency can be enhanced by developing a list of criteria to be used in considering requests for leave. The criteria should include a consideration of the impact of the leave on the business of the company. For example, a leave request during “the busy season” would be much more difficult to accommodate than a request during “a slow period.”  The employer may also want to consider...

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