Can your employer put you in a unhealthy work environment against a doctor’s release note?

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Can your employer put you in a unhealthy work environment against a doctor’s release note?

I’ve been with my company for over 10 years. About 6 months ago, I was sick and was diagnosed with COPD. I can’t do what I was doing at work per my doctor’s release. They gave me other job which was working out great. However, now they are telling me that I’m being used to me full capability, so they changed my shift and job. So I will be put back into a unhealthy environment. I

have 3 doctor;s releases that say I can’t work in that environment. I feel like they are pushing me to quit but I need the work.

Asked on April 10, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

It depends on whether the job at which you were doing great still exists--that is, they still need that job on a full-time basis (or whatever basis you had been doing it). If that is a viable job for them, they can't switch you to a job that is bad for your health given your condition, since it is a "reasonable accomodation" (which employers are required to make) to your medical condition to keep you in a job at which you are already working and which the employer still has/needs, rather than switching you to a job contraindicated by your condition.  If they are switching you from a job you had been doing to one hazardous for you, contact the federal EEOC to see if this constitutes illegal disability-based employment discrimination or harassment.
However, if they no longer need that better-for-you job, they are NOT required to create "make work" for you or pay you to do something they don't require or which is not productive for them. The law's protections for employees with medical conditions does not go so far as to require an employer to create or maintain work or jobs they don't need for an employee. They could transfer/switch your job or even terminate you, if they no longer have a need for what you were doing.


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