8th Circuit Holds Lifting Restriction Not Disability Under ADA

A permanent lifting restriction of 40 pounds does not constitute a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a permanent lifting restriction of 40 pounds did not constitute a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiff, a nurse, performed a job with a 75-pound lifting requirement. She injured her back on the job and subsequently underwent surgery, resulting in a permanent 40-pound lifting restriction when she returned to work. The hospital offered her other positions available, but the plaintiff refused and ultimately went to work for another provider (she claimed she was terminated, which the hospital denied).

The court held that a 40-pound lifting restriction did not substantially limit any major life activities, as required by the ADA. Although the restriction cost the plaintiff her job, she "was only precluded from performing a narrow range of jobs as evidenced by the fact that she has worked several nursing jobs after leaving [the hospital] and the fact that [the hospital] offered her other positions . . . that did not require lifting more than her limit." The court also held that the plaintiff was not discriminated against due to a "perceived" disability as a result of her lifting restriction.

Practice tip: Terms like "disability" can have vastly different meanings depending on the legal context. Although not a disability under the ADA, a permanent lifting restriction almost always goes hand in hand with a "disability" rating for purposes of workers'' compensation. Although this may be one reason why everyone hates lawyers, make sure you''re comparing apples with apples if you have an employee who is injured on the job.

The HR industry´s premier online community and resource for Human Resource professionals: HR, human resources, HR community, human resources community, HR best practices, best practices in human resources, online communities for HR, HR articles, HR news, human resources articles, human resources news, HR events, leadership, performance management, staffing and recruitment, benefits, compensation, staffing, recruitment, workforce acquisition, human capital management, HR management, human resources management, HR metrics and measurement, organizational development, executive coaching, HR law, employment law, labor relations, hiring employees, HR outsourcing, human resources outsourcing, training and development
hr.com. human resources management resources for hr professionals. | HR menus | HR events | HR Sitemap