Can a company refuse to let you work if a doctor has released you to return even with limitations that didn’t affect your job responsibilities

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Can a company refuse to let you work if a doctor has released you to return even with limitations that didn’t affect your job responsibilities

I am a heavy equipment operator. I had a procedure done on my back and the doctor released me to return to work with a lifting restriction. This didn’t affect my job, because the machines do all the lifting. I was told that there was no light duty and sent home. I had had the same procedure a year earlier with the same restrictions and was allowed to return without difficulty. I followed everything they asked me to do and kept them informed as to what was going on. While waiting for my doctor to rewrite my note without restrictions, I was terminated. Then 2 days later I received the doctor’s note.

Asked on August 14, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If it were the case that your lifting or other restrictions impaired you from doing your job or else posed a risk to others (i.e. that  you might drop something on someone) or yourself (since the employer is not required to accept an increased chance you will injured at work and have a claim against them), then they could refuse to let you work. However, if the restrictions do not do these things, then this may be illegal discrimination against someone with a disability. You should speak with experienced employment law counsel to discuss the situation in detail, to see if you do in fact have a claim.


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