Can a company fire someone for having an accident due to being on medication for a job-related injury?

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Can a company fire someone for having an accident due to being on medication for a job-related injury?

I had slipped and hurt my back a month earlier, while working for this company. The doctor they carried me to twice did nothing to help me because the safety man for the company told her the company would put me on light duty. I eventually had to go see my family doctorwho placed me on pain meds and sent in an excuse for me. My job was equipment operator/truck driver. The company knew that I was taking the medication and kept me driving. Oneday Iblacked out after taking my meds and had an accident (my truck left the road and tore down a fence). I was fired. Is that legal?

Asked on October 24, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to speak with an employment attorney, since this is a complex issue and the outcome depends on the specific facts, which an attorney would have to review with you in detail and confidence. As a general matter, a company should make accomodations for employees who are disabled, including temporarily disabled employees. This includes making accomodations for the medical care, including prescriptions, they require. However, limitations on the company's obligation to do this include (1) the accomodations only have to be "reasonable"--there has to be some viable other job or duties the worker, based on a combination of company needs and the worker's own experience, training, etc., can do; (2) the worker needs to ask for the accomodation and fully make the company aware of the situation, his limitations, etc. This last point, in particular, is one where you could have some trouble--if the docotor sent in a note saying you were on some meds, but you, as empoloyee did not make clear to the company what you could and could not do and ask for some accomodation, it may be that in that case, the company did not need to accomodate you and could therefore terminate you. A lawyer needs to evaluate the complete situation to determine what both your rights and your obligations were.


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