I work at a cargo airline in an administrative role. My job description stated I would occasionally need to lift no more than 15lbs. Over the last couple of months, I've been asked to take on more physical responsibilities which requires me to lift cargo boxes that each weigh about 50lbs. I asked my supervisor if I could ask some of the guys for help, but he told me I could not, so I carried out the responsibility myself. Over the months, I had growing pain on my knees until I could not bare the pain any more. I went to the doctor because I was unable to walk from the pain, and was given a doctor's note that I should not lift any weight until I fully recover (a few days).
Upon presenting the note to the HR office, he appeared visibly upset about having to accommodate me. Lately, my supervisor has been treating me in a very condescending manner, yelling at me more frequently, and making me feel uncomfortable. A couple of weeks ago, he asked me to sign a new job description that now requires me to lift no more than 50lbs. I told him I was unable to lift that weight, but he told me he could not change the job description. I'm unable to lift this weight. Options?
It is one thing to sign a job description that accurate describes the job and another thing altogether to then require you to carry out job responsibilities that violate your doctor's restrictions. Do not confuse the two. A refusal to sign a job description that sets forth accurate the normal duties of the job might result in discipline or termination for insubordination.
Unless and until your doctor changes your restrictions your employer has the legal duty to work interactively with you to find available work that does not violate your restrictions, or, if no accommodation presently exists, to place you on leave until you can perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation.
This area of law is very fact-specific and somewhat complicated. You would be well-served by a confidential consultation with an employment law attorney. Good luck to you.
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