If I was injured at work and am no longer physically able to do my job, can I be demoted?

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If I was injured at work and am no longer physically able to do my job, can I be demoted?

I work as a Maintenance Manager at a hotel. Last year, I dislocated my shoulder on the job. About 5 months later, I had surgery for a SLAP tear and impingement. I was unable to do much physical maintenance work until I was healed, which took 3-4 months. During that time, I developed a bone spur where the injury was. I took cortisone shots to keep me pain free through the summer months, as we are a tourist resort and I couldn’t miss during that time. I will be having another surgery at the end of the year for the shoulder. My concern is that with the shot wearing off, I have told my boss and owner that I physically can no longer to the more physical aspects of the job. The other day we got 5 pallets of towels that I have to unload myself. I am the only maintenance person on duty the 5 days I work, so I don’t have any choice but to do what needs to be done. I hurt daily. I have been acting in the unofficial capacity of the Assistant GM and I suggested to my boss that she make the change official and name our assistant maintenance guy the manager

because I can no longer do it. She agreed but when she discussed it with our owner, he said if that happens, I would no longer be a Manager, since the Assistant GM isn’t official. And if I am no longer a manager, I know longer qualify for bonuses so I will be losing money. I love my job and where I work but I have been very honest with them about the physical limits I have with this injury. So I either continue as Maintenance Manager, deal with limited use of my right arm and pain or I stop being in maintenance and lose money. It’s very frustrating for me because I am trying to come up with other ways that I can be just as valuable, if not more and still ensure that maintenance is run well with a capable person but it’s not happening. So I guess the legal

question is, if I can no longer physically do the job due to a workplace injury, can I be demoted/lose pay because of it?

Asked on November 27, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if you cannot do your job, you can be demoted, suspended, or even terminated. An employer is not required to retain an employee who cannot do his or her job, or to create a new position for him or her, or to transfer him or her to a different job. The employer does have to make "reasonable accommodations" to make it easier for the employer to do his or her job, but those are changes which are not too expensive or disruptive and let the employee still do the job. If the employee simply cannot do core elements of the job, he or she may be terminated, or anything less than termination.


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