Can my workplace force me to go on unpaid medical leave instead of placing me in an in-house position since I am currently unable to drive?

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Can my workplace force me to go on unpaid medical leave instead of placing me in an in-house position since I am currently unable to drive?

Today my doctor has restricted my driving for a minimum of 2 weeks as I may have a seizure disorder. My job requires the use/access to a vehicle as I am in outside sales. Upon giving them the note from my doctor they are forcing me on unpaid medical leave and removing any commissions I have earned this week as someone else needs to get the proofs of ads signed (but apparently the 5 weeks of me working to sign these customers does not matter). Anyway, I have disability insurance through work but apparently this won’t apply here. They told me there are no inhouse positions; I know there are.

Asked on July 24, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It does not matter whether or not there are in-house positions; an employer is not required to give a different job to an employee who cannot do the job for which he/she was hired. An employer does need to provide "reasonable accomodations" to an employee with a disability, but that is no more than making some changes to how a job is done, or providing some assistive technology to help the employee, if such is not too expensive or disruptive, and if such will enable the employee to do his or her job. Examples include:

* Letting a cashier, who normally stands to work, sit.

* Providing a screen that magnifies for someone with vision impairment

* If a warehouse "picker" is part of a team and has trouble bending, letting her do the waist-high shelves while other workers take the low ones.

However, if an employee simply cannot do his or her job, the employer is entitled to suspend or even terminate him or her; the employer does not need to employ and pay her when she can't do the work for which she was hired. If you need to drive for outside sales, but cannot drive, your employer may therefore suspend (unpaid medical leave) you.

As to commissions: you must be paid them in accordance with normal policy. If a sales person would not be paid commission unless he or she got the proofs of ads signed, then the employer does not need to pay you.


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