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Injured workers have the right to reasonable work accommodations

No one shows up to work hoping to suffer a serious injury, but workers still get hurt every day in New York and across the country. Sometimes, those injuries are relatively minor and only require a day or two for recovery. Other times, an injury can result in temporary or permanently disability. You may no longer be able to stand for long times, lift much weight or perform other tasks that are critical to your job function.

You may think that those physical limitations will prevent you from returning to work. However, in many situations, injured workers have the ability to perform much of their previous job with proper supports and accommodations from their employer. If your doctor believes you can return to work under certain circumstances, your employer should work with you to help you return to your job. Failing to do so may be a form of discrimination.

What kind of accommodations are common for injured workers?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must make a reasonable effort to accommodate an injured or disabled employee. There are resources that help employers determine the best way to work with an employee who suffers from an injury or disability. So long as the accommodations don't represent an undue hardship for the employer, an effort should be made to help a worker return to work.

Some common forms of accommodations include:

  • creating or installing a ramp to allow access to a building
  • upgrading to an ergonomic work space
  • purchasing a special desk that allows workers to stand
  • changing work responsibilities to remove prohibited actions
  • and replace them with more appropriate tasks
  • reducing screen exposure or flashing lights for those with epilepsy
  • allowing for additional breaks
  • moving a work station to be closer to the bathroom
  • providing an option to work from home

Many of these accommodations simply require flexibility from an employer. Others may require some degree of financial investment. The degree of difficulty, the skill of the worker and the size of the company can all impact whether an accommodation is reasonable or presents an undue hardship. Redesigning an existing building to include an elevator may constitute an undue hardship, but moving an employee's office to the ground floor likely would not.

Some employers just look to dismiss disabled workers

Sadly, workers with disabilities often face discrimination in both seeking a job and retaining one after developing a disability. Some employers would rather find ways to covertly violate the law than support their workers.

Those who suffer injuries at work should receive the support and help they need to return to the job after an injury. Returning to work not only helps you move on with your life after an injury, it can also benefit your employer, who won't have to incur the expense of hiring and training a new worker to replace you. Employers who refuse to accommodate injured workers should get held accountable for those legally and morally questionable practices.

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