Accommodating a Lifting Restriction

A Maintenance employee recently went through knee replacement surgery (not work related). His doctor has given him a permanent 25 lb. lifting restriction, stating that he does not want the employee to lift weights more than that in order to minimize stress to the components of his new knee. Lifting is identified as an essential function of the job. The Maintenance job is classified as a "heavy duty" job, meaning that those individuals frequently must lift weights up to 50 lbs. In our facility, that would mean we would have to send a partner along on the majority of jobs this mechanic does (large motors, gear boxes, etc). How far do we have to go to accommodate this restriction? If the man gains 10 lbs., is the restriction changed to 15 lbs.? If we do find a way to accommodate, do we set a precedent that we would have to accommodate every other "bum knee" that comes along?


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  • From what you posted, it appears that lifting 50 pounds is an essntial dmenad of the job.

    I assume your company doesn't accommodate for the performance of an essential function, merely upon an employee's request but does require evidence of the need, such as proof a a qualifying disability.

    So, now your down with ADA. I dont' know what state your in -- I hope its not California, because what I'm about to say is not quite appicable in Califonria.

    The employee may not be disabled under ADA simply because of the knee joint and the 25 pound lifting restriction. ADA requires a signficant impairment to one or more major life activities. Lifting is a major life activity. However, being restricted to lifting 254 pouns may not be signficant. The criteria for determining "significant' is made in comparison to the average individual. The reality is in everyday life, how many people routinely alone lift more than 15 pounds -- let along 50 or even 25?

    If you are in California, take out the word "significant" from that criterion and evlaute -- at that point, you may have a different answer. California's "ADA" law doesn't require a "significant' impairment.

  • I work in a manufacturing environment which is all heavy work. I also have an employee who is treating for a non work related injury. He is also on light duty and no repetitive lifting.

    I have asked the doctor what his definition of repetitive lifting is. I have not heard anything back.

    We do not have permanenet light duty work, and it is written in our handbook that we only have 12 weeks of light duty work. So can I enforce that he go back to the doctor, what if is PT runs out on his benefits? Can I force him to pay for his own treatment?

    If I have a permanent disabled ee he would need to go out on STD/FMLA for 26 weeks and he would need to seek other employment.

    The company has the right to say we cannot accommodate your disability, because it would put an ondue hardship on the company.

    Write me back, if you have any ideas of what I should and can do.

  • In any event, given the job you describe and its requirements, I do not think it is 'reasonable' to accomodate such a restriction/request.
  • Having another employee do his work is not reasonable.

    You may want to look at your leave policies and see if you can put him on leave until he is able to return to work and do his job.

    Good Luck!
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