Can my employer legally fire me for not being able to lift 85 lbs without accommodation?

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Can my employer legally fire me for not being able to lift 85 lbs without accommodation?

I worked for a cable installer company and on the application it asked, “Can you lift up to 85 lbs with or with out reasonable accommodation”. I use to could lift that when I was younger and thought I could now but I have been behind a desk for a few years. So I checked yes and got hired I went through there lnot so well structured training program and about half way through I was struggling with a 85 Lbs 32 ft ladder and I drop it and scratched my trainers truck. Both he and my manager said it was OK that I will get there soon. Afterwards any trainer I was put with would not let me practice.

Asked on February 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the employer would seem to be able to fire you for not being able to do this, if being able to lift 85 pounds is a requirment of the job.

While employers do need to provide "reasonable accomodations," that does not mean that they have to let employees out of basic job requirements. An "accomodation" is something which can be provided more-or-less immediately--for example, providing a chair, so a lobby security guard with troublee standing could sit; providing a phone which amplifies calls for an employee with some hearing disability. In this case, however, there is no simple, guaranteed-to-work "accomodation" which can be provided you--what you seem to need is exercise and practice over time, which is not guaranteed as to when or whether it will be succesful.

Adding to the above, you evidently misrepresnted your ability on your application form; and your inability to lift the ladder presents safety and liability issues (suppose you had dropped it on a person's head, not a on truck?).

For all these reasons--

* What you are asking for is not technically an "accomodation";

* You misrepresented your ability on your application; and

* You inabiltiy to lift this weight poses safety and liabiltiy risks

--the employer would seem justified in terminating you.


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