Fired for Being Pregnant?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Fired for Being Pregnant?

My wife works in a nursing home and is being told by her employer that if she is told by a doctor she cannot lift people she will be terminated. Is this legal? Do they have to provide her with accommodations?

Asked on October 24, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It depends upon whether lifting people is a core part of her job or not (though based on my experience with my father's nursing home, it may be). A "reasonable accommodation" is a change in policy or procedure, or the provision of some assistive device or technology, which allows the employee to to do her job. Example include allowing diabetics to have more, short breaks to eat, so as to maintain blood sugar; getting an ergonomic keyboard or wrist rest for someone with carpal tunnel syndrome. But if an employee cannot do material or key parts of her job even with an accommodation, the employer may terminate her--an employer does not need to maintain someone who can't do what they are employed and paid to do. So, for example, someone with a seizure disorder does not need to be employed as a driver or equipment operator. 
An employer does not need to create a different or new job for an employee, or move her to a different existing job, or have to have other employees do major parts of her work for her--she must be able to do the job. So if a nursing home nurse must reasonably be able to lieft people, she may be terminated legally.

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 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.

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