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John, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5623
Experience:  Licensed and practicing attorney.
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A full-time employee (paid hourly, with benefits) is

Customer Question

A full-time employee (paid hourly, with benefits) is complaining of her fingers hurting when typing and asking to not be assigned typing tasks. What do we need to do to protect ourselves from liability? For example, should we refrain from giving her typing
tasks until she feels better? Should we make sure she goes to the doctor? Should we have her file a claim with our Worker's Comp company? Should we document the incident? In California, is she entitled to Medical Leave and, if so, how much and how is this
taken/documented? Anything else we should consider? Thanks!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  John replied 1 year ago.

You need to tell her to get a diagnosis and prescription from her doctor in regard to her fingers and why she cannot type and then you will consider taking her off typing duties. If she does indeed come back with this doctor's opinion that she has a disability that prevents her from typing, you need to then engage with her in what is called a "reasonable accommodation" discussion in which you ask her essentially what if anything the employer can do to allow her to continue to work. If typing is an essential part of her job (e.g., she's a typist or receptionist) you do not have to take her off typing duties, but you could accommodate her in other ways as long as they are within your budget (for example a voice to type program). It doesn't sound like this is being alleged as a workplace injury, but if she says it is, then she is free to file a claim with your workers comp carrier. You should certainly document the dates and what she has complained of in her file as a note. She isn't entitled to leave at this point because she hasn't really established a disability that would prevent her from working, and in any event you may be able to accommodate her condition. That's all you need to consider...she hasn't established any medical reason why she cannot type as of yet...perhaps she has arthritis (I have no idea) and you may be able to accommodate her somehow. If you cannot accommodate her then you'll consider other things like medical/disability leave.

Expert:  John replied 1 year ago.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. We found out she already went to the doctor a few times. What should we request from her regarding her appointments so that we know how to proceed? DO we need records, or a note, or guidance as to what she should/shouldn't do? Once we have that, how do we determine whether reasonable accommodations can be made or whether she is entitled to leave? Thanks!
Expert:  John replied 1 year ago.

If she wishes to be excused from the typing duties she needs to bring in a note from her doctor explaining the underlying condition and recommending limited or no typing; you don't need her medical records. Once you have that, you then engage in a discussion with her about how she can do her job without typing, what measures you can affordably take to allow her to do her job. It may be that you can assign typing to other for some time or that perhaps there's some technology that would allow her to do the job without physically basically need to investigate/explore these options. You don't have to take unreasonable or really expensive modifications to the job...only those that are in essence affordable to your organization.

If nothing can ultimately be done to accommodate her, you'll need to decide whether typing is a major function of her position. If it is, then you do not have to continue to employ her because she cannot accomplish the job any longer. If it is not a major function, then she cannot be terminated.

Expert:  John replied 1 year ago.

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