If I had a stroke 2 months ago but have now been cleared to return to work, can my employer refuse to let me come back stating that I’m a liability?

I had a stroke which left me unable to work for awhile. I have now been cleared by the doctor to return back to work but my employer refuses to allow me to return. They have a home office and she says I am a liability so she won’t allow me to come in. They are moving to a regular office building (already 6 weeks behind schedule with an uncertain move date-at least 3 weeks) and she will only allow me to work from home part-time (15-20 hours paid hourly instead of my salary) until then. Can she legally do that? Do I have any recourse?

Asked on October 29, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they can do this IF it is plausible or reasonable that your stroke creates some possible liability risk and/or that their home office is not set up for someone with whatever residual limitations or disabilities you have. For example, say that you have some mobility issues and the home office is not fully handicapped accessible; they do not have to either accept the risk that you will fall and injure yourself or go to the expense of making the home handicapped accessible. The law doesn't require employers to expose themselves to liability or unreasonable costs or disruption.
If you do not have residual issues, this may be illegal disability-based discrimination, and you may have a claim for the difference in earnings you've lost (say that you lose 3 months of full time work and instead had 3 months of 15 -20 hours per week; say that your salary is $48k per year, or $4k per month, whereas on an hourly basis, you are earning $20/hour for 20 hours/week, or $1,600 per month; you potentially could recover $2,400/month for 3 months, or $7,200, approximately).


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