If an employee is on light duty but has refused to work because of pain, can the company terminate his employment?

UPDATED: Sep 23, 2010

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If an employee is on light duty but has refused to work because of pain, can the company terminate his employment?

The company will continue to pay medical expenses, however the employee was given light duty yet refuses to do ANY duty. He is essentially getting a paycheck for non productivity. What can the company do legally without being sued.

Asked on September 23, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Please consult with an employment attorney before acting--every situation is different, and the potential liability if you act improperly is high enough to make the cost of the attorney's advice well worth it.

That said, as a general rule, while a company must make "reasonable" accomodations to a disabled employee, it only has to make "reasonable" accomodations. Thus, if the company could move someone to light duty--there is a job or  need there; the person has the skill set; etc.--and does, then the person refuses to do his accomodated duty, the company could terminate him. There is no obligation to pay people for not doing a job or to make up "do nothing" jobs for  them. (Noted though, that if there is an employment contract, including a union agreement, you need to see what it says on the topic, too.)

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