Is it legal for an EMS provider to not grant light duty assignments to pregnant employees who are unable to lift patients?

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Is it legal for an EMS provider to not grant light duty assignments to pregnant employees who are unable to lift patients?

Asked on May 9, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The answer is that it may be legal. An employer may not discriminate against women in employment because they are pregnant. Similarly, employers may not discriminate on the basis of disability, including temporary (i.e. for the duration of the pregnancy) disability.

Not discriminating means making "reasonable accomodations." A reasonable accomodation is a change in how the job is done, or the provision of some assistive tools or technology, which is not too expensive or disruptive; more, it must enable the employee to do her job. If the employee simply cannot do core elements of her job, then the employer does not have to grant an accomodation--employers are not required to pay employees for not doing their jobs.

So if within your job, there are light duty assignments which you can do and the employer could have other staff do the patient lifting without undue expense or disruption, the employer should have to grant you the accomodation. However, if lifting patients is central to your job and there is no way for you to do the job you were hired to do without being able to lift patients, the employer does not need to grant you light duty--they only need to let you do light duty if there is some reasonable light duty option for your position.


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