What can you do if your doctor gives you a lifting restriction for work and your HR department harasses you over it?

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What can you do if your doctor gives you a lifting restriction for work and your HR department harasses you over it?

I have a 25 lbs lifting restriction due to bladder problems. I work on the shipping and receiving dock. My GYN gave me the restriction for work about 9 months ago. Then around 4 months later the HR Director wanted something from my doctor with a date on it. So 2 months ago I saw my GYN and he gave me the restriction and stated that the restriction was for 6 months. Today I was called into HR, given my job description and told that I have until the 30th of this month to see my GYN and have him verify what physical parts of my job description I can do.

Asked on January 13, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An employer is not obligated to employ or pay someone who can't do the work for which they are hired. Therefore, the employer is within its rights to ask for you to verify (with your doctor) which parts of your job you can do. If you can do most of it, or can do it with some reasoanble (not too expensive or disruptive accomodations), that is one thing; the employer may have to accomodate you in that case, by adjusting your job to let you do it. An example would be if you work in warehouse that handles both light and heavy objects; if your job could be structured to let you only handle the light objects, they may have to do that.

But if that is not a practical option and you must be able to lift more than 25 lb to do your job, for example, and you simply cannot, your employer is not obligated to employ you when you can't actually work.

Therefore, the employer may ask you to officially verify what parts of your job description you can do, so they can determine their obligation, if any, vis-a-vis your employment.


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