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Employment Law/light duty work


QUESTION: I am going back to work after being on medical leave for 8 weeks while i was on medical leave my company who was bought out by another corporation made the transition of moving all employees to the new location so i contacted the person who would be my new boss to ask her what the name of my supervisor would be and what time i should start she never replied so 3 days before i am to start i sent another email and she finally replied telling me that my new position is going to be th the warehouse which i have to problem with if i didn't have a bad back i even have a restriction letter from doctor, but it makes we wonder why if i have been working in the office for 18years she decides to put me in the warehouse? my question is what if they do not have any light duty for me can i get fired for that?

ANSWER: Rachel - Were you out under the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act)?  The FMLA grants employees the right to return to the same or a comparable job after the leave ends.  Even if you used only company sick time, if you were eligible for FMLA leave you should raise your right to return with HR.  The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requires that you be able to perform the essential tasks of the job, with no right to reassignment to a less demanding job, so I doubt that will help you with this problem.  Do whatever you can to persuade the new company to give you a sedentary job.  If they will not, and you can't do the new job, don't quit, make them let you go so you don't jeopardize your unemployment benefits.

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QUESTION: Yes i am under the FMLA and i have been for the last 2 years, i went to work today and after being there (in the whse for 2 hours) my supervisor asks me if i had any restrictions which then i gave him what my doctor gave me he sent me to the lunch room because where they put me i could not do the job due to the restrictions, and after sitting in there for 4 1/2 hours he brings me back a copy of my doctors letter stating "cannot meet requirements at this time" and shook my hand and said, take care get well, i had suggested and also did one of the other employees to be put in his department because it is less physiclly demanding that he had two other girls in there with him but that one of them would much rather be out in the warehouse picking orders, so i don't think that
even tool our suggestion into consideration, it seems like they want me to quit

Rachel - When you first went back to work, it should have been to your old job.  I cannot tell how often you have been out over the last two years, but each time when you reported back to work, it should have been to your original job.  By now, you may have exceeded the FMLA leave available to you, but I don't have enough information to tell.  Regardless, you have the legal right to be put back into your old job, which I thought was a clerical position, not a warehouse position.  If you are able to perform the clerical duties of your original job, you should be allowed to return to that job.  If they refuse to allow you to go back to that position, you should contact the Department of Labor and file a complaint so they can help you get your former job back.

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Margaret M. deMarteleire


I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.


Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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