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If you were injured while on the job, you have the right to collect workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation protects workers who are injured in the course of their employment from incurring massive debt. 

If your injury qualifies as a disability, then your employer must follow state and federal disability laws. Keep reading to find out what your rights are if you are injured at work and what reasonable accommodations your employer may provide you.

What are Your Rights if You are Injured at Work?

In a recent year, private industry employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal work injuries and illnesses. Employers who are able to offer accommodations to employees may enable them to return to work sooner.

If you are injured while at work, your employer must provide you with workers’ compensation. In exchange for providing workers’ compensation, you cannot sue your employer for your workplace injury. 

If you are unable to perform your job, workers’ compensation will cover reasonable medical expenses and compensate you for two-thirds (2/3) of your pre-tax gross wage until you are physically able to return to work.

If you are on workers’ compensation, your employer may also make modifications to your current job, also known as “light duty” work. This is usually prompted by a doctor’s note listing restrictions while you are recovering. 

“Light duty” work usually entails tasks that are less physically or mentally demanding. These may include:

  • Working at a desk
  • No heavy lifting
  • Supervising job sites
  • Taking inventory
  • Allowing you to work at a slower pace or less hours

Does My Employer Need to Provide Reasonable Accommodations?

If your injury makes walking, standing, seeing, hearing, breathing, moving, sleeping, or performing manual tasks difficult, then your workplace injury may qualify as a disability. 

If your injury makes you disabled, then by law, your employer must make reasonable accommodations. However, your injury may not qualify as a disability if it is temporary and you suffer no long-term effects.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that employers make adjustments for employees with disabilities. These accommodations permit a disabled individual to perform the same essential job functions as an able-bodied person.

Common disability accommodations may include:

  • Providing additional rest breaks
  • Installing a ramp or modifying a restroom
  • Modifying the layout of a workspace
  • Adjusting work schedules 
  • Providing additional time off for medical appointments
  • Modifying a policy to allow a service animal in a business setting
  • Providing screen reader software

Can My Employer Refuse to Make Accommodations?

Unfortunately, your employer can refuse to make reasonable accommodations if:

  • The accommodation would create an undue hardship on your employer
  • The accommodation would be disruptive to the workplace or
  • The accommodation would alter the job itself

If making the accommodation would cause undue financial hardship for your employer, your boss can refuse to make modifications for you, even if you need it in order to perform your job. If you are unable to do your job without the needed accommodations, your employer is not required to keep you on staff.

An employment law attorney will know what accommodations your employer must make and if their actions violate California or federal employment laws.

A California Employment Law Attorney Speaking Up for You

Workers’ compensation and disability laws can be confusing, and it may be difficult to understand your rights. If you believe that your employer is not making reasonable accommodations as an injured employee, we want to hear from you. Contact us today to speak with an experienced employment law attorney. 

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney David Mara who has more than 20 years of legal experience in employment law.

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