We Protect Workers

Does your employer have to help you stay at work after an injury?

Maybe you got hurt on the job because you lifted something and hurt your back. Perhaps you got into a car crash during your daily commute that left you with lingering pain and range of motion issues. Regardless of how you obtained an injury that impacts your ability to perform your job, you should know your rights as a worker with a disabling medical condition, even if it is a temporary one.

If you have a job that could worsen your injury or aggravate your symptoms because of the functions that you have to perform, you will typically have the right to request reasonable accommodations from your employer that will allow you to continue working as you recover or in the long run if the injury will have permanent consequences. Failing to accommodate disabilities is a common form of employer discrimination.

What is the difference between reasonable and unreasonable requests?

The idea of a reasonable accommodation is vague enough to leave people confused about what rights they actually have. Reasonable accommodations are often benefits that outweigh the short-term cost or that have minimal or no financial impact for the employer.

For example, the installation of an elevator or ramp involves a high upfront cost. However, not only does it make the facility more accessible to one injured worker, but it will allow for future access for others with medical conditions and disabilities. The expense may be reasonable for a company with several hundred employees but might represent an undue hardship for a company with a staff of only a few dozen.

Certain accommodations are basic enough that any company should be able to provide them. Basic assistive technology, changes in job responsibilities, permission to take extra breaks and even allowing someone to sit while working are all examples of accommodations that will have very little financial impact for the company and could represent a massive improvement for the employee involved. Employers that refuse these basic requests may open themselves up to discrimination claims.