Can an employer fire me after my job description changed and i am physically incapable of doing newly acquired duties?

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Can an employer fire me after my job description changed and i am physically incapable of doing newly acquired duties?

I am in medical records and work in a nursing home the same place for 9 years. My job description recently changed and now requires me to be a certified nursing assistant. I was a certified nursing assistant until I was hurt at the same place of employment. I suffered a herniated disc in my neck and am unable to do nursing assistant duties. The HR dept. told me that if I was not a CNA that they would have to fire me. Is this legal?

Asked on July 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Speak with an employment law attorney: it MAY be illegal to fire you under these circumstances, but it's not a clear cut case either way. There are two competing legal principles here:
1) Unless you have a written employment contract which specifies your position, your employer is free to change your job at will--that's part of employment at will, which is the law. And similarly, employers are free to terminate emoloyees who cannot do, even for medical reasons, their jobs.
2) However, at the same time, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees due to their disabilities. A case can be made that taking an employee who has a disability and who can and is doing job 1 and moving her to position 2, which she cannot do, is discriminatiry; it could be seen as an indirect way to terminate her due to her disability.
Therefore, it's possible, but not definite, that this would be illegal, which is why you need to consult in person with an attorney.
 


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