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No duty to accommodate when performance is impossible

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Sometimes, there’s no way for an in­­jured employee to perform the essential functions of a job, despite medical intervention. When that’s the case, it may be time to look for other options.

Recent case: Bruce, a state correctional officer, injured his arm in a serious, off-duty car accident. He took almost a year of leave, but had suffered so much permanent nerve damage that doctors believed he would never again be able to use a police baton. The state declined to reinstate Bruce to his officer position and instead offered him a desk job.

He sued, alleging the officer job could have been modified to accommodate his disability.

The court disagreed, accepting the state’s explanation that subduing prisoners is always an essential function in a correctional setting and that no accommodation was possible. (Furtado v. State Personnel Board, No. D059912, Court of Appeal of Cali­­for­­nia, 2013)

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