I have an employee that was to be moved to a job with the same physical requirements as her current job (which she was not happy about the move) but, now she has a “doctors note” stating that she is unable to perform these task. Our company has no jobs that do not have the same physical requirements bending, heavy lifting etc. Do I legally have to keep this employee on?
That depends partly upon why the employee and her doctor say she is unable to perform the work.
First, a better option might have been to offer this employee the choice of quitting or accepting the new position. If she quit, she would qualify for unemployment benefits, but you would be rid of her — which sounds like a bargain in this case.
If the employee has a permanent disability, then you must make reasonable accommodations for her disability under ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. (There is no requirement that you make accommodations for a temporary condition.)
You need to begin a dialogue with the employee to discover whether she has a disability, and if so what accommodations she needs to do the job. Remember that any information she discloses during this process must be kept in the strictest confidence, even from her supervisor. And, any docmentation must be kept in a separate confidential file, not in her personnel file. Many common conditions like diabetes, arthritis and infertility can be a disability if they interfere with basic life functions.
Once the employee has established that she does have a disability, it is up to her to suggest an accommodation that will allow her to perform the job. You can and should hold the employee to the same standard as any other worker in a similar position. For example, the employee may need special equipmet to enable her to handle the tasks. That might be a reasonable accommodation. However, if you have to hire a second person to lift boxes for her, that is not a reasonable accommodation.
You are not required to invent a job where none exists, due to the employees physical limitations.
If there is no accommodation that permits the employee to do the job, then you can let her go because she is physcially unable to perform.
This is a very complex topic. Read more about it at: www.eeoc.gov
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