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Can my employer ignore my doctor's note?

Geneva, NY |

I've been working full-time at my job for about 4 months. I am currently 7 months pregnant and have been able to sit on the job until recently (the owner will be in town for a while which is why I can no longer sit). I have a doctors note limiting me to light duty and sitting as much as possible. Do they have to honor this? I do not even get a lunch break during my 8 hour shift.

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Attorney answers 4


Generally, the employer has to honor this type of light duty for medical reasons. However, whether you can legally enforce it will depend on how large the employer is (number of employees) and what specific duties you do as part of the essential functions of your job. It is not clear from the facts that you have given what your position is or your duties so it is difficult to completely answer you question.

The failure of your employer to reasonably accommodate your pregnancy could be a violation of either the Federal Law: Title VII or the State Human Rights Law. Whether it is in fact a violation will largely depend on whether the business is covered by these laws, generally speaking, the smaller the firm, the less likely it is accountable to these statutes.

I would recommend that you contact an attorney experienced in employment/labor matters. Knowing your rights up front is an important way to protect them. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations for this type of matter.

If you don't know a local attorney in your area consult:

Good luck,


Under Title VII and NYS law, an employer must provide pregnant employees with the same benefits or types of accomodations that the employer would offer employees for other types of disabilities. An employer cannot discriminate against an employee based on the preganancy. If you have a limitation on weight limits or other types of limitations, it is likely that the employer should provide those accomodations, although the employer has a right to look behind the asserted limitation (i.e., request medical records confirming the limitation, etc.). You may wish to speak with the NYS Human Rights Division regarding the matter.

This response is provided without regard to the specific State in which the question arises and is only intended to provide a general answer that may not be applicable to every case. This answer is not a substitute for advice from an attorney licensed to pracctice law in your State and is not intended to be relied on as legal advice.


I am sorry to hear about your situation. You are supposed to be getting breaks. You're not. They should honor the doctor's note (absent certain reasons) you're worried they're not. You should call an atty. ASAP.

You should contact an attorney to discuss your questions as additional information would be helpful.

Our firm has many years of experience in the litigation field.

I wish you the best of luck.

Please remember that I do not normally monitor these questions after I have posted a reply.

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Hayley Greenberg
Greenberg & Merola, LLP
Attorneys at Law
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New York, NY 10175
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You should document every request that you make in writing. The law requires that if you ask for a reasonable accommodation then at the very least they must engage in a discussion about how they could accommodate you. This could include getting a higher chair if you have to work at a counter or allowing you to sit for different periods during the day.

You additionally could file a complaint with the Department of Labor for failing to provide lunch breaks as this is required under the law.

I would suggest that you look for an attorney to discuss your options and this point.