I’ve exhausted all FMLA and Personal leave. My employer is refusing to accommodate any medical restrictions.

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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I’ve exhausted all FMLA and Personal leave. My employer is refusing to accommodate any medical restrictions.

Due to a serious work injury, I’ve exhausted all FMLA and Personal leave time. I
am not asking for extending time off. I have informed my employer that I am
ready to return to work, with medical restrictions. My employer has refused to
accept my return with restrictions, and is stating that in order to return to work,
that I must be released by my Dr. to return to full duty, without restrictions.

What are my options. Am I protected under ADA laws?

Asked on March 5, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The ADA, etc. only requires an employer to make a "reasonable accommodation."A "reasonable accommodation" lets the employee do *the same* job he/she was doing. The employer is NOT required to give the employee a different position or light duty.
Examples of reasonable accommodations: giving an employee with wrist/forearm trouble an ergonomic keyboard or software that takes dictation; letting an employee who normally stands (e.g a cashier) sit, so long as the job can be done that way; allowing extra short snack breaks for a diabetic or bathroom breaks for an employee with IBS; etc.
But say an employee cannot lift more than 10 or 20lbs, but he/she works in a loading bay or warehouse, where the core of job is lifting more than that (or is a nurse/health aide, who must be able to lift or support patients); or is a security guard whose job involves making rounds, but they can't walk; or is lineman or repair technician who has to go up on ladders to do his/her job, but cannot; etc. If the employee cannot do the core or important functions of his/her job, then the employer can suspend or terminate them.
So if your restrictions prevent you from doing the core, etc. elements of your job, your employer can refuse to let you return; they do not have to give you light duty instead of your regular dugies, or give you a different job or position.

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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