Preventing Legal Fires: Reasonable Accommodations and Terminations While on Disability

Issue 12 and Volume 173.

FIRE SERVICE COURT ❘ By Beth Murphy and John K. Murphy Firefighting is a dangerous occupation, with deaths and injuries taking a toll on our nation’s firefighters mentally and physically. At times, those suffering from physical or mental injury may be placed on disability to allow time for healing. Occasionally, these injured workers are terminated while on a disability. Is that legal? Most employees in the United States are at will, meaning the employer can terminate them for any reason but not for discriminatory reasons. It is prevailing wisdom that while you are on a disability and off work, you are protected under the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).1 Therefore, there are certain instances that termination while on a disability may cause the injured worker to sue an employer for wrongful termination. In many circumstances, employers may not discriminate against employees with disabilities and must provide them…

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