He should start by contacting his union representative. Light duty is always an option but not all employers have available light duty and they don't need to create it. That said, they are required to discuss reasonable accommodation of any disability he may have from the accident. Light duty isn't the only form of accommodation. Layoff from a union position might not be a terrible choice as he will have recall rights. It is critical that he contact his union rep ASAP.
Your son can get free advice from his Union rep.
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Sounds like something shady might be brewing there. I would contact a local practitioner well versed in employment labor law for that state.
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If the Employer has no light duty available, your son's rights are going to depend in part on what is contained in the union's collective bargaining agreement. The union contract may provide for certain benefits while he is off, and it may govern his right to recall if a layoff does occur. The employer likely offered the early layoff to enable your son to get unemployment benefits, but whether or not that is a good choice depends on the other options available and whether your son would continue to enjoy recall rights. I think it makes sense to review the situation with the union representative and with an attorney.