Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorney Answer: I requested an accommodation for my disability at work, but my employer said I had to go to their physician before I can get help. Is that disability discrimination? Is it legal for my employer require to a physical exam by a second doctor before I receive an accommodation for my disability? What should I do if I am being discriminated against at work by my boss because I’m disabled?
The answers to the questions above depend upon the initial request and the accommodation needed. The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits an employer from refusing employment to an employee because of a disabling medical condition. The prohibition against disability discrimination does not restrict an employer’s right to make job related inquiries into the necessity and type of an accommodation that a disabled employee may receive; nor does it stop your boss from seeking a second opinion regarding your request for an accommodation. The ADA does not prohibit an employer from asking for a second medical opinion if the employee does not provide sufficient information for the employer to make a reasonable accommodation.
Under the ADA, the employer must allow the employee to first fix the lack of information by obtaining it from their physician. If there is still ambiguity as to how to accommodate the your ADA request, your boss or manager may then proceed to ask you to submit to a medical examination by their own physician so long as the examination is “job related and consistent with business necessity.”
For example, Hardy Worker works at Mike’s Club as a receipt checker. His job requires him to stand at the exit of the club and make sure each customer has paid for their items. One day, during his shift, Worker suffers a knee injury when a customer cart full of groceries slams right into his legs, causing damage to one of his knee caps. Worker takes off work for knee surgery and upon his return, tells his supervisor Ada Violator, that he just had knee surgery and needs Mike’s Club to do “something about it.” Worker provides a doctor’s note that says “patient had knee surgery” with no additional information provided in the note. Violator reads the note, but does not have any clue how to help Worker.
Violator and Mike’s Club cannot act on Worker’s behalf because they do not understand what Worker means by “do something about it.” Worker’s doctor’s note just states he had knee surgery, but does not give any information on how the surgery may require them to change the way he workers. At this point, Mike’s Club and Violator can ask Worker to go back to his doctor for clarification. This is known as the “interactive process” under the ADA. Mike’s Club must “interact” with Worker to see what exactly needs to be done to help accommodate his medical condition. If Worker does not provide clarification or the additional information from his physician, Mike’s Club can ask Worker to visit a physician of their own choosing to figure out what to do “about it.” This is the point where the Club’s request for a second opinion becomes “job related and consistent with business necessity.”
Employers, under the ADA, do not have unfettered rights to send employees off to shady doctors of their choosing who may, because they are retained by the employer, refuse to provide accommodations for patients referred to their offices. Only after the employer has thoroughly engaged in the interactive process and can show a job related and business necessity that they may request an employee to obtain a second opinion. In the situation above, Worker’s physician probably should have provided a note stating Worker is limited in the amount of time he can stand, sit, and walk around to check customer receipts. Worker’s physician could have also stated Worker may need additional breaks . Worker’s supervisor, Ada, had she received a specific note to outlining a prohibition on long periods of standing/sitting, could have realized all Worker may have needed at the time was a stool at the entrance and additional break time to for his medical condition. Therefore, if you are an employee in need of an accommodation at work, try to be clear about what the accommodation is for and what your doctor suggests should be done to accommodate the condition.
Having to live with a disability is difficult enough without worrying about the effect it may have on your job. If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our Ohio employment law attorneys at 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
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