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Can my employer fire me if I am no longer physically able to perform my job duties?

Casselberry, FL |

I have cancer and have been suffering the effects. I am no longer able to lift more than 10lbs but my job description says I should be lifting up to 40lbs. Also I am required to stand for long periods of time but require short breaks due to severe pain.

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I agree with Attorney Morcroft and would add that your employer has a legal obligation to engaged in what is commonly referred to as an "interactive process" meeting, the purpose of which is to review the job requirements and to identify "reasonable" workplace accommodations. You would do well to begin, and your question indicates that you have done just that - to educate yourself as to your workplace rights. It would also be in your best interest to try to obtain at least 2 or 3 “no charge” “no obligation” consults with local, FL-based employment attorneys. Those of us who regularly answer questions posted here on AVVO are an excellent place for you to start your search for local counsel. The bottom line here from my perspective is that it's always wise to invest time in an effort to become an "informed" consumer of legal service. Good luck and best regards, Rob Fortgang - Employment Law Attorneys / 800-932-6457 /


An employer is required to make reasonable accomadations to allow you to perform your job. Also, you may be eligible for family and medical leave act benefits. You should contact an employment law attorney.

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There are a number of issues you present here. Generally, federal law tries to balance the needs of the employer with the rights of an injured/disabled employee. First, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer ("undue hardship"). A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) to help a person with a disability perform the duties of a job.
Reasonable accommodation might include, for example, making the workplace accessible for wheelchair users or providing a reader or interpreter for someone who is blind or hearing impaired. However, if lifting up to 40lbs is one of your key job functions and there is not a reasonable accommodation that would allow you to do that, then the employer does not have to keep you employed.
You should also be aware of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which affords a covered employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and protects your job (which means health insurance and disability insurance remains in place as long as you pay those premiums).
Lastly, if your employer offers STD/LTD insurance, you may want to look into that as well for income replacement should you be unable to continue your employment (or if terminated because you cannot perform your job).
I would be happy to discuss this in more detail and offer a free telephone consultation. As a previous poster mentioned, it is advisable to obtain a few opinions first.

This is general information only and does not constitute legal advice, nor does this communication in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. Feel free to contact me for further information.

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