When an employee returns fromand his employer assigns him to light-duty work, that is basically an acknowledgment that the employee has a serious health condition incapacitating enough to interfere with performing an essential job function. The employer can’t later challenge that part of eligibility.
Recent case: Arnold worked for Dietz & Watson for three years and then injured his shoulder at work. The next day, he asked for a light-duty assignment. Ultimately, his doctors told him to take a week off to heal. During that time, Arnold saw his doctor twice and received continuing treatment.
When he returned to work, Dietz & Watson put him on light-duty work.
A few weeks later, Arnold was fired for alleged performance issues.
He sued, alleging retaliation for taking FMLA leave.
The company argued that his injury had not been serious enough to be covered by the FMLA.
But the court disagreed after noting that Dietz & Watson had agreed to place Arnold in a light-duty position.
The court took that as an admission that Arnold had not been able to perform an essential function of his job while recuperating from the work injury. His case will continue. (Mercer v. Dietz & Watson, No. 15-3928, ED PA, 2015)