Posted by Tamara
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against protected groups in employment situations. This includes workers who have been put on light duty restriction. Employers must treat these cases equally and fairly, or face illegal discrimination charges.
No federal law or North Dakota law, however, requires companies to provide workers with a light duty position if one isn’t available. Neither North Dakota nor federal law addresses light duty at all.
Several courts cases have involved this topic, though, so a number of regulations regarding light duty restrictions have been established by the U. S. Department of Labor.
In similar situations, employers must treat the assignment of light duty positions equally. Most companies have policies covering light duty assignments, which depend on the individual situation and what accommodations have been made in the past.
Some companies have enacted policies to prohibit light duty work altogether. In these cases, the employers are concerned that the worker may injure themselves further is allowed to work. Courts have reviewed several of these cases and found that as long as the employer treats all light duty restrictions in the same manner, the policy is legal.
An exception to the rule is when the case involves a worker with a disability. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requires companies to make reasonable accommodations for employees with a disability. Providing a stool for a worker to sit instead of stand while doing his or her job, is a prime example of a reasonable accommodation. Creating an entirely new position for that employee would not be a reasonable accommodation.
The light duty also depends on the job. A secretary with a sprained ankle may continue to work at her desk while on light duty restriction. A warehouse worker who operates a forklift may not be able to continue his job with a broken wrist. If an appropriate light duty position isn’t available, he may be required to remain at home until he is able to safely operate the forklift.
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