Disabled employees who return to work before fully healed may be eligible for light-duty positions or other modifications as reasonable accommodations. However, employers that allow leave until the employee is fully healed don’t have that obligation.
Recent case: Herbert, a delivery driver, injured his knee playing football. He received 12 weeks of, but wasn’t yet cleared for work. His employer extended his medical leave until he got the all-clear to do his old job. The employer then discharged him.
Herbert sued, alleging disability discrimination.
The court threw out his case. It noted that at the time he was fired, Herbert wasn’t disabled. In fact, he was fully able to do his old job. Had he been discharged earlier, he might have been able to argue he was entitled to accommodations. (Rocco v. Gordon Food Service, No. 11-585, WD PA, 2014)