What to do if my employer told me I was disabled after returning to work from workers comp with a 20 pound restriction?

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What to do if my employer told me I was disabled after returning to work from workers comp with a 20 pound restriction?

She sent me home and after 6 days into the new school year, she finally fired me. Did she violate any law?

Asked on October 3, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The issue is, what is your job, and can you do it with a 20 lb restriction? An employer must make reasonable accomodations to employees with disabilities; but the employee must still basically be able to do the job. So, say that your job is cafeteria worker--while it's convenient to be able to lift heavy bags of flour, sugar, etc., it's not critical to the job, since you are one of a team, and other team members could lift the heavy stuff. In that case, if by changing your duties slightly so that other cafeteria workers lift heavy weights and you do the lighter things, you could then do your job, the employer would seem to not be able to terminate you, but would rather have to accomodate you in this way. On the other hand, say that you are janitorial/custodial/maintenance staff, and if you cannot lift 20 lbs (e.g. tools, supplies, parts, etc.) you can't do your job--then the employer could likely terminate you, since an employer is not obligated to retain employees who can't do what they were hired to do.


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