Fired for Being Pregnant?

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Fired for Being Pregnant?

My wife works in a nursing home and is being told by her employer that if she is told by a doctor she cannot lift people she will be terminated. Is this legal? Do they have to provide her with accommodations?

Asked on October 24, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It depends upon whether lifting people is a core part of her job or not (though based on my experience with my father's nursing home, it may be). A "reasonable accommodation" is a change in policy or procedure, or the provision of some assistive device or technology, which allows the employee to to do her job. Example include allowing diabetics to have more, short breaks to eat, so as to maintain blood sugar; getting an ergonomic keyboard or wrist rest for someone with carpal tunnel syndrome. But if an employee cannot do material or key parts of her job even with an accommodation, the employer may terminate her--an employer does not need to maintain someone who can't do what they are employed and paid to do. So, for example, someone with a seizure disorder does not need to be employed as a driver or equipment operator. 
An employer does not need to create a different or new job for an employee, or move her to a different existing job, or have to have other employees do major parts of her work for her--she must be able to do the job. So if a nursing home nurse must reasonably be able to lieft people, she may be terminated legally.


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