Is it considered wrongful termination if an employer tells you that they will not allow you to come back to work until you are 100% medically released?

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Is it considered wrongful termination if an employer tells you that they will not allow you to come back to work until you are 100% medically released?

I was experenicing severe neck pain. I was dealing with workmans comp to see if my injury was related to a previous injury. The employer said that they could not allow me to return to work until medically cleared. I had mentioned to the employer that I didn’t want to lose my job because of this. They reassured that I would not. I offered to work on light duty so they wouldn’t be short handed. They would not allow that, but when I broke my wrist I could. I have lost my job.

Asked on May 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It most likely is not wrongful termination. An employer is not required to take the risk of liability by allowing an employee with some potentially significant medical condition to work (e.g. if you had a severe neck pain, that could have been indicative of damage to nerves or a disk, which could have been exacerbated by work--and in turn could have led to claims against the employer). An employer is also not required to provide light duty in many cases, such as if they believe that there is no safe light duty, or if based on your job, experience, skills, their needs, etc., there is no useful light duty you could do in this situation. And finally, if an employee cannot safely or effectively do his or her job, an employer is not required to retain and employee him or her.


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