If you have a condition that significantly reduces or limits your ability to work, you may be considered disabled according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and therefore protected by this federal law.
The ADA applies to any employer with 15 or more employees. It says that an employer cannot discriminate against workers with disabilities. This includes those who may be a candidate for a position as well as those who already hold a position, such as an injured worker who is left with a disability due to a work accident but who wants to return to his or her place of employment.
An injured worker whose work abilities have been limited by a work accident will probably be evaluated by a doctor to find out how well he or she can perform the necessary duties of the job. If the worker’s condition limits him or her from performing job tasks that are not critical to the job, then the ADA would require these tasks to be reassigned. In a similar manner, if the tasks that the worker is unable to do are critical to the job, then the ADA requires the employer to consider a reasonable accommodation that would help the worker to still complete the task. This might include special equipment or a device that relieves some of the physical nature of the worker’s job. However, the law does not clearly define this term.
Q: My employer fired me because they were afraid I would re-injure myself now that I have some permanent disabilities due to my work accident. Can I really be fired for this reason?
A: If you are someone with a qualified disability, you cannot be fired if there is no direct threat or risk of re-injury. Fear alone is not grounds for firing someone with a disability due to a workplace accident.
Q: My employer says that if I am not back to 100%, I cannot return to my job. What do I do?
A: If your employer fires you once you are done treating because you are not back to where you were before the work accident, then you may be entitled to protection under ADA. This would be true if you were being discriminated against because your disability hindered you from performing a non-essential task of the job, or if there was a way to accommodate you that was practical and realistic but which your employer did not want to do. It might be beneficial to consult with an attorney if you find yourself in this type of situation.
Q: I have more seniority than some other guys in our factory who are performing jobs that would better accommodate my disability due to a recent work accident. Doesn’t my employer have to give me their jobs?
A: Not necessarily. Accommodating a worker who may have been disabled by a work related injury is required by the ADA when reasonable accommodations exist. However, according to the ADA, reasonable accommodations do not include moving people around to open up a position or creating a new position for the newly disabled employee.
Have a question about the ADA and how it impacts you after a work injury? Call us at 317.569.9644 for a free consultation to see how we can help.