Accomodating Employee Medical Restrictions

I have an employee who has a doctor's statement restricting lifting to no more than 25 lbs. due to a hernia. The employee is unwilling to have the problem corrected surgically. We have been able to accomodate her thus far by limiting her to jobs within the lifting restrictions. I do not believe this situation qualifies under ADA. How long do I have to accomodate a medical restriction that an employee refuses to have corrected? What are other options?


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  • If the hernia is a worker's comp covered injury, then look to your state WC law to see how long an accomodation should be made. If the injury was not work-related, and you believe there is no disability subject to ADA protection, then look to any union contract for guidance. If no union contract (or the contract does not give any rights on this issue), then you can probably terminate if E is not able to do her actual job.

  • I'd be cautious here. The issue will be first of all whether the employee is disabled under state and federal anti-discrimination statutes. It's not clear from your description of the restrictions on the employee's functions whether she is "substantially limited in a major life activity." Then, if she is disabled, you need to determine whether she can perform the essential functions of her job with or without reasonable accommodation. Allowing her to do her job with a weight limit might be considered to be a reasonable accommodation. If you terminate her under those circumstances, your company would have to show that reallocating the workload was an undue hardship and that's a pretty high threshold, especially considering the fact that it sounds like you've been able to do it for awhile. This is an area where you should definitely contact your labor and employment counsel for advice. Good luck.

  • I think the question is, whether the condition meets the criteria for protection under ADA because it is a correctable condition. The employee is simply choosing not to have the corrective surgery. My thought would be that IF she does not have legitimate medical reasons NOT to have the corrective surgery, that issue should be considered. If a person can take medication to control hypertension, B/P, etc. and chooses not to do so, their condition is not protected, right? So what is the difference here?

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