Published Jul 13, 2003
I have post polio syndrome and have been an RN at a State facility for the the past 10 years. I am being told that I cannot do my job because of my disablility. I feel they are wrong but I dont think I will have a job much longer. help, I feel helpless!!!
Employers are required to make accomodations for disabilities.
Since you are employed by the state, there should be a job that
you could do somewhere within the system.
What about looking into being an inspector/surveyor for the state? People who do that are often older and/or have some medical problems. This does not interfere with their ability to do that job and the pay is the same as elsewhere within the system.
I would speak to a lawyer also if you get a negative response
from trying this avenue.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, I believe you employer, ESPECIALLY if it is a state government, is required to make accomadations for you.
One word: lawyer!
I see this misconception about the ADA quite frequently; but the fact is the employer is NOT required to give you another job, nor create a job for you, nor keep you in your present job if you can not perform the essential functions of that job with or without accomodations. There are limitations with respect to what accomodations a given employer must provide as they must be "reasonable" and what is "reasonable" is subject to interpretation.
That is not to say the poster should not seek legal advice. If her employer is saying she is unable to do her job, I believe the writing is on the proverbial wall. Perhaps the FMLA may be of assistance, I don't know.
But what I do know is that the ADA, for all the screaming from the business community is not a panacea for the weak position workers all too frequently find themselves in through no fault of their own.
i don't have any advice just (((((((hugs))))))))))).
I have seen large teaching hospitals make huge adjustment and buy expensive equipment for disabled R.N.'s. These were nurses who over a period of 5-10 years became more & more disabled.
I was astonished at the lengths the hospital went to to accommadate them.
I would go up the chain of command. Your manager cannot single -handedly make that decision. You have plenty of rights.
Start exercising them.
And go to human resources. Take a friend (witness) with you. Take a friend with you when you "stop by" the managers office to discuss this.
And, now is the time to see a lawyer too. You may be looking
at a nice $500,000 wrongful discharge settlement.
Your manager is doing you a disservice.
Have you actually read the labor laws in the Federal Disability Act?
Do not quit, no matter what. Do not sign anything.
Getting an attorney on board will definitely give you the best chance. You may also want to consider contacting the EEOC. Also, some food for thought...
Supreme Court Rules on Disabilities Case
Law Does Not Entitle People to Jobs That May Harm Their Health
By ANNE GEARAN
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (June 10) - Disabled people cannot demand jobs that would threaten their lives or health, the Supreme Court said Monday in a victory for employers who argued they could be forced to hire people who would turn around and sue over workplace injuries.
The unanimous decision makes it clear that employers can turn away people who want a job even if they would be risking their lives to do it. The ruling also makes it easier to fire disabled people who already have jobs that put their health in jeopardy.
``If Typhoid Mary had come under the ADA, would a meat packer have been defenseless if Mary had sued after being turned away?'' Justice David H. Souter asked rhetorically in his opinion for the court.
The case is the latest in a line of rulings that limit worker rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act, the landmark 1990 civil rights law for the disabled. It is the second major ADA ruling this year that strengthened employers' hands while making it more difficult or impossible for some workers to claim the law gives them special protection.
Monday's case involved a former Chevron refinery worker with liver disease who wanted his job back, whether chemical exposure would worsen his condition or not. Mario Echazabal said he has no symptoms, can physically do the job and should be able to decide for himself.
The justices reversed a lower court ruling in favor of Echazabal and sent the case back for further review.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission struck the right balance between protections for workers and employers when it wrote regulations that applied in Echazabal's case, the court said.
The ADA requires employers to accommodate qualified disabled workers, but makes an exception for those who may be a threat to the safety or health of others on the job.
The EEOC, which can enforce the ADA in the workplace, has interpreted the exception as also applying to workers who may only be a risk to themselves.
Monday's ruling frees employers who were ``between a rock and a hard place,'' said Stephen Bokat, senior vice president and general counsel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Employers worried they would be sued for rejecting disabled workers, and also open to lawsuits or prosecution under federal workplace safety laws. Business groups lined up behind Chevron in the case, as did the Bush administration.
``This is twice this year by 9-0 decisions that the court has made clear that they think the ADA was being read by the lower courts too broadly,'' Bokat said.
``It's 9-0. No one can say these are the conservative bloc or the right wing of the court or whatever rejecting employee rights. It's all the members of the court, left, right and central.''
In January, the court ruled against an assembly line worker with carpal tunnel syndrome. That case made it harder for workers to demand special treatment when they suffer partial disabilities that may impair them on the job but do not substantially affect day-to-day life.
In April, the court ruled 5-4 against an airline worker who wanted to go around the company seniority policy to claim a job that did not aggravate his back injury.
The latest ruling potentially applies to any employer, although lawyers said it will have the greatest effect in industrial settings such as the El Segundo, Calif., chemical plant where Echazabal worked for more than 20 years.
``There is a long history in this country of (employers) limiting the opportunities of people with disabilities out of a misplaced concern for the safety of those people,'' a response that Congress meant to forbid when it passed the ADA, said Samuel Bagenstos, Echazabal's lawyer at the high court.
The court did not give employers carte blanche to claim that a disabled employee is unable to do a job for health reasons. Each case must be evaluated on its own, using the latest medical guidelines, Souter wrote.
The ruling is in line with all six previous Supreme Court rulings testing the limits of the ADA on the job. In each, the employer won and the worker lost.
``The United States Supreme Court today once again demonstrated its fundamental hostility to disability rights in the workplace,'' said Andrew J. Imparato, president of the American Association of People with Disabilities.
George Crisci, a Cleveland labor and employment lawyer, predicts still more Supreme Court cases to refine what accommodations employers must make.
``There's more work to be done,'' Crisci said.
06/10/02 16:00 EDT
Monie, below is the link for the EEOC website. You'll also find info regarding the Americans w/ Disabilities Act. Hope this helps and let us know how things are going...
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the employment provisions of the ADA. The EEOC is headquartered in Washington, DC and has offices throughout the United States, including Puerto Rico. If you have any questions concerning the EEOC or the ADA, please
Call the EEOC at 1-800-669-4000/1-800-669-6820 (TTY).
I think the burden of proof that you are unable to perform your duties falls on your employer. You have been there 10 years and feeling you can perform, I believe. But, you should retain an attorney that specializes in employment law that can explain to you the elements required to your being let go. If you get an attorney now, he/she can enlighten you to what or what not they can or cannot do. Many many times employers do not follow proper procedures for letting people go and that hurts them when it comes time for legal action. You need to be aware of those procedures and relay them to your attorney before (if) the day comes where you are terminated. The time to start building your defense is before the termination. Often times, when proper procedures are not followed, and an attorney has been keeping abreast of a situation, a call to your employer can rescind a termination in a short amount of time while the company (state in your case) attorneys look the termination procedure over for possible violations. Good luck.
Rstewart great reply and summary of concepts that are typically not understood by the general public. (One area of my practice is evaluating ADA requests for a variety of companies/organization.)
I am sorry youare having such a bad experience. I recently had to be out of work for an ongoing back problem, but my DON was super. She took my w/e on call for me and that really helped out a lot I guess it just depends on where you work as to how they value their staff.
Great post with good replies.
I encourage you to seek all avenues for an equitable redress of your problem.
ADA is quite powerful and is the EEOC. Try them both ASAP.
You must find the most competent legal help you can buy. That's right, buy! Before discussing your complaint with any lawyer, remember they, like you, are licensed professional and they deserve to get paid. Nobody should work for free. If they refuse to take a payment, tell them you will make a donation to their favorite charity and do it. If it is a 503c you can write it off your taxes anyway. Also I need to remind you that free legal advice is worth every penny that you pay for it.
Let me tell you a little story about accomodation. At the junior college I attended in the 70s, a wheelchair bound student was taking classes in the social science department. All of his classes were in the only 2-story building on campus. He sued the college and they settled by installing an elevator in the building. This was long before ADA and maybe even the EOC, so I don't know how he did it. I am sure he got more of an education through his experience with accomodation than in all of his classes.
Remember, all of the information you are getting is in the form of nurse-to-nurse comments, not legal advice. You can only get legal advice from a lawyer, and remember paying your lawyer means that you can sue them if anything they tell you is wrong.
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