We have recently hired an employee for our production line. After he completed his training we realized that he has a back problem which will prevent him from completing his tasks. Can we let him go? Also, how can we prevent this in the future?
If the employee is unable to perform his job tasks due to a medical condition then this could be a justifiable reason for terminating his employment. However, employers should be cautious in ensuring two important facts: One, that the medical condition directly prevents the employee from performing his job functions, and two, that no reasonable accommodation is possible without it being an excessive constraint for the employer. For example, if the employee could perform the job sitting instead of standing without causing delay in the production line, this could be considered a reasonable accommodation.
The employer should have the employee evaluated by a doctor specialized in this field in order to determine the two factors mentioned above. By reviewing the job description and examining the employee, the doctor would be able to say whether or not the employee could perform the tasks assigned.
One way to prevent this in the future would be to specifically list the physical requirements of the position in the job posting (for example: “Must be able to stand for long periods of time, must be able to lift weights of up to 50lbs”). This will help certain candidates eliminate themselves. Another way would be to present a clear description of the position during the interview and confirming with the candidate whether they feel they will be able to physically perform the position. As a last resort, you can have all of your final candidates undergo a medical assessment where a doctor can confirm that the employee appears to be fit to complete the job tasks. While this is a more expensive solution, it can also be useful in avoiding problems down the road.
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