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Gucker v U.S. Steel – Functional Capacity Evaluation Implications

Background

Albert E. Gucker was a 30-year veteran at U.S. Steel’s Irvin Works Tractor Shop. During 8 of those years he had a 30-pound lifting restriction imposed by company physicians. The presence of the restriction meant one of two things: either his job did not require the ability to safely lift 30 pounds or his restriction had been an in-place accommodation. In either case he was receiving protection under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

All this changed the day he returned to work after an uncomplicated gallbladder surgery and met with area manager Don Hubert. The interaction with the manager ignited a series of non-compliance issues involving:

  • essential function job demands
  • A physical therapist’s stay-at-work functional capacity evaluation
  • a successful application for coverage under Social Security
  • A physician’s misplaced or lost functional capacity evaluation notes

The telling of the resulting $5.5 million cautionary tale reminds us of the need to:

 

 

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