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Can an employer refuse to honor a doctor's note, restricting my activity on the job?

Hustisford, WI |

I suffer from severe foot pain if I stand for longer than 30 minutes. I have a note from my doctor, restricting me to "sitting" jobs of which there are many at my location. My employer refuses to honor the doctor's note saying it is against company policy to make special exceptions for anyone. Can they legally do that?

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Attorney answers 1


In Wisconsin, the employer's response to your request for modification of your job duties or even your job assignment is regulated by the state and federal law on disabilities in the workplace. Federal law will only apply if your employer has 15 or more employees. Wisconsin law covers all Wisconsin employers. If your condition is permanent, in the sense that it won't get better without medical intervention, then you are likely covered the Wisconin law and maybe even the federal law (Americans with Disabilities Act). Assuming that you are a person subject to protection under these laws, then the issue is whether you can perform the essential functions of your position with or without reasonable accomodation. You have made a request for accomomdation, and the employer may have to accomodate you in some manner if the accomodation enables you to perform the essential functions of your position and the accomodation does not impose an unreasonable burden on the employer. The employer does not have to make the accomodation that you request, but it must engage in a discussion of possible accomodations to find one that will work for you and the employer. There can be times when transfer to another position is an appropriate accomodation that the employer must make. It all depends on the particular circumstances. The other, open position must be on for which you are qualified and can perform with or without accomodation. If no other accomodation is available in your current position, then the employer may be in violation of the law if it refuses to transfer you. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Develpment, Equal Rights Division, will investigate a possible violation if you file a complaint, and an attorney experienced in disability discrimination laws may also help you in this process or to address any violation, as you may have rights to reinstatement, demand the appropriate accomodation and maybe even monetary damages.

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