Can an employer fire someone for having a doctor’s note saying that the employee cannot lift over a certain amount and has to be sitting?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can an employer fire someone for having a doctor’s note saying that the employee cannot lift over a certain amount and has to be sitting?

Asked on April 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Maine

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In many cases (though not always), yes, the employer can fire that  person. IF the employee's condition qualifies as a disability (and not all conditions do; there has to be elements of permanence--or at  least long duration--inability to readily control, and impact on normal life functions), then the employer has to make "reasonable accomodations" for the employee. However, a "reasonable accomodation" is a change in how the job is done or the provision of assistive technologies or devices which enable the employee to do the job, and which are not too expensive or disruptive. However, the employee fundamentally needs to be able to do the job--if he or she can't, the employer is not obligated to employ and pay them for not working, or to try and make up some new job which the employee could do.

So, take the restrictions in your question: for many tech support personal, customer service employees, telemarketers, editors, graphic artists, and bookkeepers, for example, those restrictions would not be significant--an employer should be able to accomodate them.

On the other hand, for warehouse or shipping personnel, for retail store employees (who have to walk around to help customers), for many cashiers (who may be able to sit, but must be able to lift the weight of the products), for security guards (who have to do rounds), for mechanics, many technicians, custodial staff, for bus or livery cab drivers (who may have to help with luggage), for wait staff, for bartenders, for chefs and cooks, for home health care aids, and for many other employees, the inability to stand for  prolonged periods and/or the  inability to lift over a certain weight means they simply can't do the job. If they can't do the job, the employer may fire them.

In any particularl case, therefore, whether the employee should be accomodated, or whether he or she could be terminated, will  depend on the nature of his or her employment.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption