Pregnant and told that I had to take a leave of absence because of a weight restriction given to me by my dr.

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Pregnant and told that I had to take a leave of absence because of a weight restriction given to me by my dr.

I am 6 months pregnant and was told by my dr not to lift over 20 pounds. I gave my work a restriction note about 2 months ago and no one has said anything about it when I turned it in to them up until this week. They have just now come to me and told me that they didnt have to accept my weight restriction because it wasn’t from an accident that happened while I was at work, even though they have had the restriction for about 2 months now and haven’t said anything about it. Now they are telling me that my only options are to quit my job with them or take a leave of absence until after I have the baby. I dont want to quit my job and I can’t afford being off work until after I have the baby. Can something be done about this?

Asked on October 15, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) Whether they have to "accept" a restriction has NOTHING to do with whether it is from a workplace injury or not.
2) The issue is, can you do the core or important parts of your job with this restriction? If you can, they have to honor it; and if they don't, you could contact the EEOC to file a disability-related discrimination claim against your employer. If you can't do the core or important parts of your job, however, they could require you to take leave or else terminate you, since they don't need to pay you or retain you if you can't work.
Examples:
a) Your job is something like office assistant, accounts receivable or payable, HR, etc.--a position where lifting weight is NOT part of your main functions, even if once and a while you might help lift some package that was delivered, carry a computer, or move a water cooler bottle, etc. Since you can do the important or main elements of your job without lifting more than 20lbs, they have to let you do it and take away the occasional or sporadic, non-core funcutions that have you once in a while lifting weight.
b) On the other hand, if you work in shipping, warehousing, delivery, etc. and lifting more than 20 lbs of product is a major part of your job, or you are a nurse or home health aide where you have to be able to lift and move patients to do your job, then you can't do your job with this restriction. In that case, they could require you to take leave, or terminate you if you can't, since they don't have retain or pay you when you can't do your job.


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