Workers in all kinds of industries get hurt on the job every day. While certain industries may be more prone to workplace accidents than others, an injury can happen in just about any field. After all, retail workers could slip on a wet floor and hurt their heads. Factory and office workers could suffer repetitive motion injuries from doing the same work every day for years.
Regardless of the nature of your job, in the wake of a workplace accident, your employer should try to help you get back to work. If you have injuries that will heal over time, your employer should try to accommodate your current abilities until you can resume your old responsibilities. If your injuries constitute a permanent disability, your employer should absolutely try to support your return to the job.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers can not discriminate against disabled and injured workers. That includes their own staff who get hurt at work and have different capabilities afterward. Any injury that results in physical or mental impairment is a disability.
Your employer should not discriminate against you because you can no longer perform the same work after an injury. Instead, they should make a reasonable effort to help you transition back to work. Depending on the nature of your injury, different accommodations could be necessary. Unless those accommodations represent an undue hardship for your employer, they should try to work with you.
For women who are pregnant, reasonable accommodations could include changing duties to limit lifting, allowing for additional breaks or even helping setting up remote work options. For nursing women, extra breaks for pumping and a quiet space to do so would be reasonable accommodations. For an employee with a broken bone, new tasks that don’t require the affected limb are a form of accommodation.
There are as many different accommodation options as there are injuries. Whether you need a wheelchair ramp to access your office or you require assistive technology, so long as you can still perform the tasks of your job, your employer should do what they can to work with you.
Failing to make accommodations is often a sign of discrimination against differently-abled workers. In some cases, retaliation or threats of retaliation up to and including termination from a position could leave a worker in fear of requesting support that he or she needs to return to work. In these kinds of scenarios, employees may need to take legal action to protect their own rights and ensure no one else faces similar discrimination from their employer in the future.
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