What are my rights if my employer is unwilling to accommodate my back condition?

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What are my rights if my employer is unwilling to accommodate my back condition?

Last year I got very sick and it took about 6 months for my doctors to diagnose me with spinal stenosis and degeneration, among other issues. I was on a medical leave of absence through my employer. When the absence ended, I requested a reasonable accommodation in order to come back. Since my spine issues are in my lower back, I asked if I could use a stability ball or an

ergonomic chair both of which I will provide in order to not be in terrible pain/worsen my spine. My manager called me and said that stability balls are a liability and told me that I would either have to commit to working 40 hours a week without accommodation or resign. She gave me less than an hour to make my decision so I resigned. I believe what they did is illegal and would like a professional opinion on what I should do.

Asked on April 16, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Utah

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Based on what you write, this was illegal: allowing you to use a different kind of seat (ergonomic chair or stability ball) for a provable back condition--especially when you would provide them and there is no cost to the company--is illegal disability-based harassment or discrimination. Employers must make reasonable accommodations to employee medical conditions, and what you describe is reasonable. Their alleged liability issue could have been dealt with easily: you could have signed a waiver that you would sue if hurt by the chair or ball you provided; therefore, it was a non-issue.
You should contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commissino about filing a complaint; you may be entitled to compensation. Good luck.


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