If there is no light duty at my husband’s job but he requires it, does the company have to have provide reasonable accommodation?

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If there is no light duty at my husband’s job but he requires it, does the company have to have provide reasonable accommodation?

My husband has compressed discs in his back. They have recently swollen and he’s back on disability at work. He has a very physical job and works for a very large company. I asked his HR rep about reasonable accommodation because he has a list of restrictions from his doctor. The HR rep told me that they don’t have “light” duty, so there is nothing he can do. Isn’t reasonable accommodation for injured employees required by the company? Even if the injury did not happen at work? And if so, how do I go about getting him Light Duty at his job, so he can continue to work?

Asked on February 12, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Nevada

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The key word in "reasonable accomodation" is "reasonable": the accomodation must be neither too expensive nor too disruptive to the employer. Among other things, an employer is not required to create a job or position which it does not need specifically to allow it to employee someone who is incapable of doing the job, due to disability, for  which he or she had been hired. This also means that even if they might arguably have "light duty" jobs, they do not need to--

1) fire or transfer someone else already doing the job, to create an opening; or 

2) give the job to somone who does not have the education, training, or experience to it (for example: say someone who works on a warehouse floor becomes disabled; they do not need to give him or her a job in finance or accounting if he or she lacks the requisite credentials and experience).

If you believe the company is lying, that is one thing; you may wish to speak with an employment attorney about the situation, to explore yor options. But if they truly do not have any light duty jobs which your husband is capable of doing by dint of education, credentials, training, and experience, they do not need to make up a new job for him.


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