What documentation do I need to get and what does it have to say in order to get a compassionate reassignment?

My mom found out today that she has something torn in her knee (I forgot what it was). She can barely walk and has to take medication in order to tolerate the pain, but they are still making her go to work.

Asked on June 16, 2014 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Your mother's employer does need to make "reasonable accomodations" to disabled employees, but there are a number of limitations on it:

1) The disability has to be one that permanent or at least difficult to treat or do anything about: if, for example, your mother could get arthoscopic surgery and have her knee repaired, she'd be expected to do that (but should be eligible for  an accommodation in the time leading up to the surgery).

2) A "reasonable accomodation" is one that is reasonable for the employer: not too expensive or disruptive. Gettina a cashier who has trouble standing an appropriate-height chair so she can sit instead of stand and allowing her to sit while working, for example, is a reasonable accomodation. On the other hand, a waitress, for example, has to walk to do her job; there's no way to accomodate a waitress who can't work. So the issue is: is there something not too expensive or disruptive that the employer can do for your mother *at her current job* (see below).

3) The employer does *not* need to reassign an employee or give her a different job. Employees are hired to do specific jobs; if they can't do those jobs, even with a reasonable accomodation, or there are no reasonable accomodations possible, the employer may fire the employee--it does not have to retain people who can't do their jobs.

 


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