Can I be terminated after surgery if I cannot return full duty?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I be terminated after surgery if I cannot return full duty?

I had back surgery my FMLA time is up and employer refuses return with any restrictions. My job description states that I must lift up to 100 pounds. I was never required to prove I could due so when hired. It is not my injury restricting this it is my physical strength. I work as a dementia unit coordinator in a personal care home

Asked on February 9, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Regardless of whether you had to prove your ability to left 100 lbs previously or not, if this is a core or key part of the job--for example, if you have to be able to help lift, move, support, or if necessary, restain, patients, and so a certain amount of strength is required--then they can terminate you: the law does not make employers retain employees who can't do essential elements of their jobs.
However, if strength and lifting capacity is not an essential part of your job, then terminating you on this basis is likely a pretext or excuse for illegal disability-based discrimination. If you think that is the case, contact the federal EEOC or your state equal/civil rights agency to file a complaint.

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.

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