Is chronic back pain a disability for which I can request accommodation?

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Is chronic back pain a disability for which I can request accommodation?

I made a verbal request to rest my back but my manager denied it and made me work in pain.

Asked on June 12, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If there is a medical diagnosis for it (i.e. it's not just your subjective, personal report of pain), then it would be a disability for which you can *request* an accommodation. That, however, does not guaranty that there will be an accommodation which your employer can give you. The employer's obligation is only to make a "reasonable accommodation," which is one that is neither too costly or disruptive; examples include getting a wrist rest for carpal tunnel sufferers, getting a telephone with better volume control for the hard of hearing, getting a larger or magnifying computer screen for those with some vision impairment, etc., or letting a cashier, who normally stands but who has bad feet or legs, have a stool to sit on while working. However, above all, the employee must still be able to do the job he or she was hired for; the employer does not need to give them a new or different job, and the employer also does not need to let them spend less time working than other employees. If there is no accommodation that wil reasonably let you do your job--which means, among other things, working your full shift--the employer is not required to do anything.


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