What should I do

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What should I do

I am a month away from passing my probation period at work. For the past 7 months, I have been placed on a permanent midnight shift 10 pm-8 am. I started having health issues related to sleep. My doctor gave me a letter asking for my employer to place me on a morning shift. I turned the letter in to my employer. They took 2 weeks to respond. They advised a denial of my request for a shift change. This is because it causes an

Asked on February 9, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There are two issues here.
The first is if you actually have a medical condition which they have to accommodate. An employer is NOT required to accommodate any/every health-related complaint of employees; they only need to accommodate ones which qualify as "disabilities," which mean they significantly impair a major life function, are not readily or quickly remedied, *and* flow from some recognized or provable medical condition. Having ill effects from a night shift is not a disability requiring accommodation unless 1) there is a medical condition constituting a disability underlying it; and 2) the effects are more than the general tiredness or sleep issues which essentially anyone would have from working that shift. If there is no particular medical condition tied to this and you're essentially just feeling the natural effects of your shift, the employer does not need to accommodate you, the same way they would not need to accommodate an employee who is complaining about work stress or being overworked.
Second, if the shift change would be an undue or unreasonable burden: if it is, they are not required to grant it. Giving you a reasonable accommodation does not require them to "bump" other employees for you, particularly if those other employees have seniority over you or would in turn suffer the same effects from your shift that  you do (since then the company is simply trading one affected person for another). 
From what you write, therefore, this may not be a case where you are entitled to an accommodation. That does not mean that you should not speak to your union representative or ADA coordinator--or even, if you feel strongly and do not get any help, contact the federal EEOC, which oversees the disability-discrimination laws. It does mean that you need to reconcile yourself to the fact that you may not get the relief you want.


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