Please be advised that contacting Ruder Ware by e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you contact the firm by e-mail with respect to a matter where the firm does not already represent you, any information which you disclose to us may not be regarded as privileged or confidential.


Accept   Cancel

Please be advised that contacting Ruder Ware by e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you contact the firm by e-mail with respect to a matter where the firm does not already represent you, any information which you disclose to us may not be regarded as privileged or confidential.


Accept   Cancel

PAL Login

linkedin.jpgyoutube.jpgvimeo.jpgtwitter_off.png View Ruder Ware

Employment Blog

Light Duty Only for Work-Related Injuries  Pregnancy Discrimination?

Authored by Dean R. Dietrich
Posted on January 22, 2014
Filed under Employment

Many employers have adopted a light duty policy that only applies for an employee that suffers an on-the-job injury. The theory is to allow light duty for work-related injuries in order to encourage an injured employee to return to regular duty. Such a policy of only giving light duty to work-related injured employees has often been questioned as being discriminatory because light duty is not offered to a disabled employee who suffers from a condition that is not work related. For the most part, however, courts have upheld such a policy on the basis that the criteria used to determine eligibility for light duty is not discriminatory in nature.

A recent decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has raised a significant question about this analysis. In an unpublished decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision that dismissed a claim against a nursing home by finding that the "no accommodation for non-work-related injuries" policy did raise a question of discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. The nursing home did not allow a light duty assignment for a pregnant employee because the condition was not a work-related injury. The Court of Appeals dismissed a claim based upon disability discrimination and an alleged violation of FMLA but ordered a claim of pregnancy discrimination to go back to the lower court for a trial.

This decision raises a question whether the no accommodation for injuries that are not work related policy will continue to stand. Many courts have held that an employer can choose to only provide light duty (an accommodation) if the injury is work related but that thinking may be subject to change at least as it relates to the condition of pregnancy if an employee is able to perform their regular duties during the pregnancy. We will need to watch this case closely to see if employers need to adjust their thinking regarding light duty accommodations.