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Massachusetts - Doctor note - Discrimination

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  • Massachusetts - Doctor note - Discrimination

    I work for a fairly large commercial company. Recently there was a reorganization that took place which made my job responsibilities change (not job title). The new responsibility requires lifting. I provided a doctor’s note which states I can not lift. Could the company let me go before trying to find another position for me if they claim undue hardship for the current job that I was recently thrown into (relocating me somewhere else within the company)?

    Please note: I have seen recent job postings within this company for similar job responsibilities/skills that I was working in before the reorganization. These postings are in other areas of the company. When I spoke to Human Resources (HR) about transferring me to another area to better align my skills, HR mentioned that I would have to post for a position since HR can not offer any recommendations regarding hiring a certain individual to a hiring manager.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by question31; 08-03-2006, 05:33 PM. Reason: size 7 showed

  • #2
    With the exception of FMLA situations which do not apply here, a doctor's note has no force in law.

    IF you have a medical condition which qualifiies you for protection under the ADA (which is by no means certain based on what you have posted) then your employer is required to determine whether or not there is a reasonable accomodation which would allow you to perform the essential functions of your postion. IF there is an open position for which you qualify, a reasonable accomodation could be to move you into it. However, they have no legal obligation to either create a new job for you or to eliminate an essential function of your position. If there is no reasonable accomodation that they can provide and there is no open position for which you are qualified to move you to, then yes, you can be terminated.

    Note that the burden of proof is on your employer to demonstrate either undue hardship or that there is no reasonable accomodation.

    If the ADA does not apply, then you have no job protection at all. As I said, a doctor's note has no force in law.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

    Comment


    • #3
      Massachusetts - Doctor note - Discrimination - part 2

      Thank you for the quick response!

      Regarding the situation stated in the two e-mails below here is some more detail:
      The company I work for wanted a doctors note on file right away since I mentioned that lifting below my waist I couldn’t due since my knee can easly buckle/lock up and my back is not the best.
      The doctors note that my Doctor provided states: I cannot lift anything more then 10 lbs.

      There are open positions for which I am qualified for but these positions are not in the same department. These positions are located in different departments of the company. During the reorganization, there were others in my department that were placed in other areas of the company but the position they placed me in required lifting heavy items. HR states they can not help me now with the open positions that I would be qualified for but they did recommend that I can post for the positions which means (if I get the position) I would not be able to post out of the new position for six months.

      Question: Why would a company be so concerned about getting a doctors note on file and now that they have the doctor’s note, what actions could the company take?

      From the response below, it looks as though the company can try working with me in trying to find a reasonable accommodation but if the company finds the accommodations to be a burden, they have no obligation to keep me.

      Thanks in advance.


      **************************************************
      Reply: With the exception of FMLA situations which do not apply here, a doctor's note has no force in law.

      IF you have a medical condition which qualifiies you for protection under the ADA (which is by no means certain based on what you have posted) then your employer is required to determine whether or not there is a reasonable accomodation which would allow you to perform the essential functions of your postion. IF there is an open position for which you qualify, a reasonable accomodation could be to move you into it. However, they have no legal obligation to either create a new job for you or to eliminate an essential function of your position. If there is no reasonable accomodation that they can provide and there is no open position for which you are qualified to move you to, then yes, you can be terminated.

      Note that the burden of proof is on your employer to demonstrate either undue hardship or that there is no reasonable accomodation.

      If the ADA does not apply, then you have no job protection at all. As I said, a doctor's note has no force in law.

      **************************************************
      First e-mail/question: I work for a fairly large commercial company. Recently there was a reorganization that took place which made my job responsibilities change (not job title). The new responsibility requires lifting. I provided a doctor’s note which states I can not lift. Could the company let me go before trying to find another position for me if they claim undue hardship for the current job that I was recently thrown into (relocating me somewhere else within the company)?

      Please note: I have seen recent job postings within this company for similar job responsibilities/skills that I was working in before the reorganization. These postings are in other areas of the company. When I spoke to Human Resources (HR) about transferring me to another area to better align my skills, HR mentioned that I would have to post for a position since HR can not offer any recommendations regarding hiring a certain individual to a hiring manager.

      Thanks in advance.

      Comment


      • #4
        I doubt they wanted a doctor's note, "for the file". I suspect they were looking for information as to whether or not FMLA or, more likely, the ADA applied. But a note that simply states you cannot lift more than 10 pounds is not enough to trigger ADA protections.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

        Comment

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