Can a job force you to go on medical leave for having wrist pain that does not relate to the job?

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Can a job force you to go on medical leave for having wrist pain that does not relate to the job?

I just do not know what to do. My job told me that because my wrists were hurting that I can not come to work until I see a doctor. I did and the doctor said that I have arthritis and chronic dislocating wrists and they are sending me to a specialist. But my lob will not let me work at all even though they can move me to a different department where I do not left 50 to 75 pounds. Do they have to accommodate my disability by moving me to a new department?

Asked on December 29, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An employer can generally suspend or terminate an employee who cannot do the job for which he/she is hired. The law does, however, require "reasonable accomodatons" for disabled employees. Assuming for the moment that your condition qualifies as a disability (not all medical conditions do; and whether  a particular one does is often a fact-specific question, so it is difficult to answer in general), then the key issue is whether they can make a "reasonable" accomodation.

A reasonable accomodation is one that is not too costly or disruptive to the employer. It can involve a change in duties, but only if (1) there is a legitimate need for the other position--they don't have to make up an unnecessary position, if, for example, they are fully staffed in the other area, or move some other person out of his/her job to make room for the disabled employee; and (2) the disabled employee can do the other job--which means he or she has the necessary experience, skills, credentials, etc. for the role. (Also, the employer does not need to increase an employee's pay to move him/her to a different position.)

If  you feel that your condition is serious enough to be considered a disability, and also feel that there are available jobs at the employer which you are qualified to do, then you may have a legal claim. In this event, you should consult with an employment attorney to discuss your case in greater detail.


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