No light-Duty jobs open when employee returns? You don’t have to retain him

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Sometimes, injured employees use up all the leave their employer or the law allows before they’re ready to return to work. If the employee isn’t disabled as defined by the ADA, you can remove the employee from the payroll. (He may still be eligible for workers’ compensation payments.)

Recent case: An accident injured truck driver Hanton Joseph. He couldn’t work and received workers’ comp, plus six months of unpaid medical leave under a company policy.

Joseph tried to return to work, but a company doctor said he still couldn’t do his former job. With no other positions open, the company terminated Joseph. He sued, alleging “discrimination” without any specifics.

The court threw out his case. It reasoned that the employer had no other benefits to which Joseph was entitled. The employer had already provided the maximum unpaid medical leave its policy allowed. (Joseph v. Reagent Chemical & Research, No. 07-4287, SD TX, 2008)

Final note: Some injured employees try to return to work by asking for reasonable accommodations such as light-duty work. Or they may ask for more time off as an accommodation. But unless the employee successfully makes the case that he has an ADA disability, those accommodations aren’t required.

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