What happens ifI can’t get a doctor’s approval to return to work?

UPDATED: Aug 11, 2011

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What happens ifI can’t get a doctor’s approval to return to work?

I’ve been on medical leave for 10 weeks and am scheduled to return to work in short order. The medical leave has exhausted all my company sick and personal time and well as all FMLA leave time. My company requires a note from my doctor stating that I’m fit to return to work. The doctor won’t provide a note stating I’m fit to return. Where does that leave me? Can I return? I am still suffering from a chronic medical condition and its not likely that I work be able to perform my job at 40 hours per week. What if I return and can’t perform the job? What if I don’t return to work?

Asked on August 11, 2011 Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you can't work, you may be entitled to either state disability or SSI from social security. Also, if you were injured at work, you may be entitled to worker's compensation, or to disability pay if the company maintains disability insurance. You may want to consult with an attorney to explore what benefits, if any, you may be entitled to.

While a company can't discriminate against someone with a disability, that may not help you:

1) Not all medical conditions consitute "disabilities" for this purpose; it must be beyond your reasonable control or remediation and have a significant impact on your ability to function. Assuming your condition is a disability, there's still a problem, since--

2) A company's onl obligation is to make "reasonable accomodations," which are adjustments to duties or schedule, or thhe provision of assistive technology, that is not too expensive or disruptive. If you can't perform, even with some reasonable adjustments or assistance, a job which the company needs and for which you are otherwise qualified, they are not required to employ you--the law does not make them keep someone on the payroll who can't work.

Discussing the extent to which you may be protected by anti-discrimination law is another thing you should consult with an attorney about, since you need a lawyer to explore the specifics of your condition and job in detail. Good luck.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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