Can my company have me use my vacation time because they cannot meet the restrictions placed on me by a doctor after an injury at work?

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Can my company have me use my vacation time because they cannot meet the restrictions placed on me by a doctor after an injury at work?

I fell from a ladder at work and hurt my ankle. The network doctor put me on restricted duty. My employer says they are not able to meet the restrictions and that I am just going to stay home and have to go on leave using my vacation time to pay for it. Can they do that?

Asked on April 17, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your employer may most  likely do this. The law does not force employers to pay employees who cannot do the job they were hired to do. If your ankle injury would qualify as a disability, then your employer might have to make "reasonable accomodations" for you; a reasonable accomodation is a change in how a job is done, or the provision of some assistive device, which is not too expensive or too disruptive to the employer. However, if there is no way to reasonably accomodate you--if the restrictions you require would fundamentally prevent you from doing your job--the employer does not have to make up a new job or pay you for not being able to work; it could terminate you, put you on unpaid leave, or require you to use paid time off.

(And note: not all injuries or medical conditions qualify as disabilities to being with; if your ankle injury would not, then the employer does not even need to consider reasonable accomodations for you.)

However, if you were injured at work, you may be eligible for worker's compensation; you may wish to speak with your company's accounting or HR department about applying for worker's compensation.


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