Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Aug 07, 2012

Safety concerns following worker’s release to full duty

Q&ADisability 

Q: I have a forklift driver who went to the doctor after wandering around dazed and incoherent at work. He returned with a full work release, but I’m afraid for his safety and the safety of the crew. Do I have to put him back on the forklift?

A: Not necessarily. You can require a fitness for duty evaluation if you have a reasonable belief based on objective evidence that the employee’s ability to do essential job functions is impaired or he will pose a direct threat to himself or others. If the forklift driver’s physician wasn’t provided a detailed job description, you can send the employee for a fitness for duty exam before putting him back on the forklift. In contrast, if the forklift driver is returning from FMLA leave with a doctor’s full release, the law says you must let him drive. After you’ve reinstated him if you still have safety concerns based on your objective observations, you can send him back for a more detailed fitness for duty assessment.

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