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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption