Second Guessing A Doctor’s Release

A recent EEOC settlement highlights the risk of ignoring a doctor’s full release.  According to the EEOC, the employer refused to return an employee to his job after the employee had a heart attack. The employee was released to work by his doctor with no restrictions but the employer refused to put him back to work (except for two days).  The EEOC alleged that the employer violated the ADA because it discriminated against the employee based on actual or perceived disabilities.  The EEOC release does not include the employer’s explanation for its actions, only that the employer paid $50,000 to resolve the claims.  However, the case is a reminder to employers not to substitute their own perceptions of an employee’s ability to work, for an employee’s doctor’s opinion (unless the employer is also the employee’s doctor – a situation that the EEOC has not yet addressed).

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