What to do if I was forced to quit due to my boss not following doctor’s restrictions on a work related injury?

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What to do if I was forced to quit due to my boss not following doctor’s restrictions on a work related injury?

He did not carry workman’s comp. I injured my back at work so badly that I had to be taken to the emergency room. I also went to see my regular doctor and was given a note that stated I was to not perform any heavy lifting or excessive bending. I gave this doctor’s note to my boss on 2 occasions. I told my boss that the main thing that was tearing my back out was lifting the refrigerators that weigh 250-300 lbs. He told me, in front of the shop foreman, that I no longer had to do refrigerators. From that point on, I was given every refrigerator replacement job that came into our shop.

Asked on April 7, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, a doctor's restrictions is not necessarily binding on an employer. If an employee is disabled (not all medical conditions are  considered disabilities, but let us assume that yours would be), the employer's only obligation is to make "reasonable accomodations," or changes to duties or provision of assistive equipment (e.g. lift belts, dollies) that allow the employee to  do his or her job. That is the key consideration: the employee must still, with some change, be able to do the job; and also, the required accomodation cannot be too expensive or disruptive to the employer.

Therefore, if the nature of  your job/position is that you have to be able to lift heavy weights, including refrigerators, you may not be able to have that job; the employer is not required to retain you if you can't do the job you were hired for, and is not required to transfer you to a different position.

Therefore, you might not have recourse for not being able to do your job. On the other hand, if you hurt yourself at work, in the course of your job, and there was no worker's compensation, you may be entitled to sue the employer for your injuries (e.g. pain and suffering) and costs (such as medical bills)--when there  is no worker's compensation, employee's are often able to sue. You should consult with an attorney, who can analyze the situation in greater detail: you may have a legal claim for the injury against your employer. Good luck.


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