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I work for a very large state university in florida and am employed to work in a science lab. I have a pre-existing injury in my spinemultiple herniated disks and I am X disabled and I am being asked to move heavy objects in excess 150 lbs. I have told my department head about my injury via email for evidence and have protested lifting heavy items citing the risk of further injury. I am still being asked to move heavy items and have been told this will not be the last time. Does this constitute gross negligence if i were to get hurt moving heavy items at work?
Asked on December 7, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Florida
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 6 years ago | Contributor
It depends what job you were hired for. If moving items is core or central to the job and you cannot do this job without moving heavy items, they do not need to accommodate you: a "reasonable accommodation" under the law is one which lets the employee still do the job he or she was hired to do. (There are simply some jobs you should not have if you have certain conditions or disabilities.) On the other hand, if moving heavy items is peripheral to the job and you can do the core elements of the job without moving these things, then they should make a reasonable accommodation and let you do your job without moving these items (and/or provide equipment to let you move them safely). If the won't, this may constitute illegal disability-based discrimination, and you may have a claim for compensation: if you think this is the case, contact the federal EEOC about filing a complaint.
If you do move heavy objects knowing you shouldn't, your employer is NOT liable: you chose to listen to them and move something you know you shouldn't. That is your negligence, not theirs. Your recourse, if you feel they are discriminating against you by requiring you to move these things, is to refuse and file a complaint; or if it's simply not a job that you can do safely, your recourse is to seek other employment. You can't blame the employer if you go ahead and do somethign you should not.
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