Would I have a lawsuit for being terminated from work while pregnant?

I was having complications with my pregnancy. My doctor restricted me to no lifting over 10 lbs and my job wouldn’t provide accommodations for me. They told me that I would have to be separated from my job even though I have been there 9 years and my last pregnancy I had similar issues. They put me on prn then but

this time they laid me off. Is it okay for them to fire me for needing accommadations that they couldn’t provide?

Asked on January 17, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

It depends on whether you could still do the core or critical functions of your job with the lifting restriction. A "reasonable accommodation"--all the law requires--is one that lets you do the core or critical functions of your job. If your requested accommodation lets you do those critical functions, the employer must make it; but if the requested accommodations would not let you do the core elements of your job, the employer does not need to make them, and can terminate you if you cannot or will not do the important parts of your job.
Examples:
1) You are an accounts receivable person who sometimes helps out accepting deliveries, moving inventory or files around, or lifting/filling water cooler bottles, the same way everyone at work sometimes helps out with chores/tasks outside their job description. If you can't lift, you can't do these extra things, but you can do the core functions of your job (accounts receivable); in this case, the company would have to accommodate you and a failure do so would be a violation. In this, you would likely have a viable lawsuit.
2) However, if instead you work in order fulfillment or shipping, where the core of your job is to be able to lift packages of more than 10 lbs weight and load and ship them. In that case, you cannot do your job with the lifting restriction, so the employer could refuse the accommodation and terminate you. It would not be reasonable to require them to have a fulfillment or shipping person who can't fulfdill orders or ship. There would be no lawsuit.


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