Is it legal for an employer to refuse to let employees wear gloves at work despite that they need to for health reasons?

UPDATED: Apr 2, 2012

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Is it legal for an employer to refuse to let employees wear gloves at work despite that they need to for health reasons?

My mom works as a cashier at a supermarket. During the cold season my mom’s hands get really cold, swell up, and become painful from the cold. She and other cashiers requested the owner to allow them to wear gloves but the owner refused to let them by saying that it will break the keyboards of the cash machine. My mom had to go to the doctor and ask for a note that allowed her to wear arthritis gloves. The owner allowed it beacause it was from the doctor but is still pestering my mom to take them off at work. Is it legal for employers to treat employees this way when it come to their health?

Asked on April 2, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether wearing gloves is a "reasonable" accomodation. If your mother can do her job (cashier) with little fall off in speed or accuracy, and little chance of damage to to the keyboard, it is reasonable and they should allow it and not harass her over it.

On the other hand, if the gloves causes her to be noticeably less productive or creates a real risk of damage to the equipment, then the employer could refuse to let her wear the gloves; the law does not require the employer to incur considerable risk, cost, or inefficiency to accomodate an employee.

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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