Can my employer legally fire me for not being able to lift 85 lbs without accommodation?

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Can my employer legally fire me for not being able to lift 85 lbs without accommodation?

I worked for a cable installer company and on the application it asked, “Can you lift up to 85 lbs with or with out reasonable accommodation”. I use to could lift that when I was younger and thought I could now but I have been behind a desk for a few years. So I checked yes and got hired I went through there lnot so well structured training program and about half way through I was struggling with a 85 Lbs 32 ft ladder and I drop it and scratched my trainers truck. Both he and my manager said it was OK that I will get there soon. Afterwards any trainer I was put with would not let me practice.

Asked on February 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the employer would seem to be able to fire you for not being able to do this, if being able to lift 85 pounds is a requirment of the job.

While employers do need to provide "reasonable accomodations," that does not mean that they have to let employees out of basic job requirements. An "accomodation" is something which can be provided more-or-less immediately--for example, providing a chair, so a lobby security guard with troublee standing could sit; providing a phone which amplifies calls for an employee with some hearing disability. In this case, however, there is no simple, guaranteed-to-work "accomodation" which can be provided you--what you seem to need is exercise and practice over time, which is not guaranteed as to when or whether it will be succesful.

Adding to the above, you evidently misrepresnted your ability on your application form; and your inability to lift the ladder presents safety and liability issues (suppose you had dropped it on a person's head, not a on truck?).

For all these reasons--

* What you are asking for is not technically an "accomodation";

* You misrepresented your ability on your application; and

* You inabiltiy to lift this weight poses safety and liabiltiy risks

--the employer would seem justified in terminating you.

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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