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Workplace Issues
Jan 26, 2012

My partner recently informed his workplace that he suffered from a chronic illness. The reason he informed them is because they were asking him to perform another job in which he would be working in a cold freezer without a freezer suit. After, notifying his supervisor he was sent to human resources. The human resource rep asked him for documentation of illnes and limitation for room temps. and other accomodations. His doctor stated the the room temps and also asked for frequent breaks and adjusted his work hrs from 10 to 8hrs. The day after he returned with the paper work from his doctor the plant manager called him at home before coming in and told him they would have to find him a position that accomodates him. They put him in the lab temporarily and he is working 8hr shifts. The human resource rep called him the other day and told him they would allow him to stay in the lab until 12-04-11 in the meantime he would need to search for other employment within the company that would accomodate his needs. He feels as though the are trying to push him out of the company. Can they lay him off if he doesn't find a postion before this date? He was hired as a machine operator in the first place. In this position he isn't dealing with cold or heat. The only thing I can think of is that they didn't like that his doctor requested his work hrs would change. Before he brought the papers they said they would work with him as long as he had documentation. What actions can he take before they decide to push him out?

Response from Mr. Chambers

Unfortunately, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) only requires employers to make "reasonable accommodation" for an employee's medical condition.

However, it sounds like your partner may be working for a large company. If that is the case, it is more difficult for them to show they can't accommodate his condition, and it also sounds as if they may not be doing that.

Please contact a legal services agency in your area or your local office of the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) to see if they can assist.

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