Being forced to change to a job you can't do ...can they fire?


Feb 16, 2007
First of all, let me say....Happy Thanksgiving to all you wonderful ladies at the TPF! :heart:

I've got a bit of a question to ask all of you....I know a lot of husbands are lawyers and the like, and I need a bit of help.

I came home for the Thanksgiving day holiday, and my mom was really upset about some things that had happened at work.

Here's the story: (She's very upset and doesn't know what to do....)

Both my parents work for the same company. (I won't name it for all that sake.)

They have always worked in different locations and now, the head of the company, wants to move my dad into the same "district" as my mom. So, now they want my mom to move from that "district" and take a job that would be more physically demanding---a warehouse type job that entails a lot of heavy lifting, walking, strenuous activity. (They work at an automotive parts chain.)

The problem is, she worked at this particular job for two years (about three years ago), and in that time, she dislocated her elbow and still has lasting damage. She had to take medication for her knees (from all the walking) and had multiple visits to the chiropractor due to back strain.

My mom is a very physical woman, don't get the wrong idea. She grew up on a farm and is used to strenuous labor. So, heavy lifting and being physical isn't a problem for her. However, this is definitely a job that is designed for a man. (I hate to use that term, because I think that women can do a "man's job", but what they require is ridiculous.)

She doesn't want to work at the warehouse again, because of the toll it took on her body. But they are forcing her to move because "The Boss" doesn't want her and my dad to work together at the same location. (Not to mention, this isn't the first time that she has had to change store locations because of where my dad goes.)

So, my question is: Can they force her to move? Can they force her to take the job again at the warehouse? Her job at her current location is still existing (she is a parts driver/counterperson), which is still demanding (loading/unloading trucks), but less physical.

She's very afraid that they will force her into this new job or fire her. Can they legally fire her if she doesn't want to move?

She is sure that after all the problems that working there caused before, she won't be able to maintain the level of physicality that the job demands. She doesn't want to come home and sit in pain every night.

What are her choices? What should she do?

Sorry if this was a bit long, but I don't know anything about employment laws. I was hoping I might be able to get some answers. Money is a little tight right now and my mom doesn't have the money to consult a lawyer. :sad:

I really really appreciate any help. Thank you so much!!


Lovin' Life!
Apr 21, 2006
well, first, Happy Thanksgiving!

next, there are many forum members - male and female - who are lawyers too.;)

I'm not one of those lawyers but I have HR experience. Sometimes companies will have written policies outlining employment of relatives, so your mom/dad should look into this with their company's HR department.

Usually, if there are restrictions around employment of relatives, it is not due to physical work location, but rather regarding reporting relationships. So I could see a problem if the company has a policy forbidding your mom reporting to your dad (or vice versa) and they would want to take actions to prevent this.

However, I would expect that should your mom need to be transferred, she would be offered a similar position to the one she's in currently, not one where there is a material change in work requirements and responsibilities (especially the physical requirements) in which she may not be qualified or physically able to perform. She should talk with the HR department about this to see if she is required to transfer, what similiar, suitable jobs are available.

Hope it all turns out for the best for her!


Feb 16, 2007
Thank you for your help!

As far as my mom reporting to my dad, my dad is part of the corporate staff, so he wouldn't deal with her on a day-to-day basis. In fact, she would most likely rarely see him in a work situation. He would be overseeing the store operations and the inventory. Whereas, if she had a problem, we would talk to the store manager.

See, the interesting part of this is, when my mom worked at the warehouse previously, the corporate headquarters were there. So they have worked together in the same type of situation before.

So, it seems very weird to her (and hence, why she is so upset) that they are suddenly making a big deal out of the fact that they would be in the same area together.

Hope that makes sense...and I'll definitely have her look into the company policy...

Vegas Long Legs

Nov 13, 2006
Can she get a doctor write a letter stating your mom can't do too much manual labor cause of her previous injury?
Is there a union?


Oct 25, 2006
Can she get a doctor write a letter stating your mom can't do too much manual labor cause of her previous injury?
Is there a union?
I agree, also-did your mother file workman's compensation for the injuries sne suffered from work? I would suggest listing the responsibilities she would have in the new job, what she is doing now, and the difference between the two in how the new duties could aggravate her previous injuries. This would would help HR see more clearly that she needs a lateral move with similar duties, and also help her doctor write a note for her. Hope that helps and enjoy Tanksgiving despite this problem.


Feb 16, 2007
See....this is where it gets a little sticky, and personally, I have told my mother that maybe she would be better off just quitting.

The chain she works with for has 18 stores and they are all owned by a single man, mainly, "The Boss."

He is the person that is telling her that she needs to move, because, since he owns all the stores, he moves everyone and tells everyone what to do.

My dad, is more or less, VP to "The Boss" and when my mom dislocated her elbow my dad very very very strongly encouraged her NOT to file a workman's compensation claim because he didn't want her to "rock the boat."

So, no there is no workman's compensation claim because my mom didn't want to upset my dad and etc, etc etc. In hindsight, it was probably a bad move and I encouraged her to file a claim, but she didn't want to be a bother. :Push:

And as far as the HR dept goes, it is ONE PERSON, who is in "The Boss's" office, so basically, she is under his thumb.

I hope this makes sense. I'm not very good with office politics.


I Bleed Georgia Red
Oct 18, 2005
New York City
Hmmm. Really bad decision not to file workman's comp, imo. I was injured at work last year, so I know that it would be illegal for the 'Boss' to retaliate against your mother for filing a claim about injuries sustained at work. the Boss should have insurance to handle those situations. I can't believe your dad would have pressured her to not. Definitely didn't have her best interest at heart in that situation. Workman's comp would at least give her documentation that she sustained her injuries directly as a result of the job into which they're trying to force her.

If she has a good doctor, though, they may be able to provide adequate documentation that she's not physically able to perform the duties of that job. Theoretically, if they value her as an employee, they'd try to find her another position.

All this kind of changes if your parents live in a right to work state, however. If you do, they can basically terminate your employment for whatever reasons they see fit at any time, and they do not have to notify you of the reason. So, if they terminated her, unless she could prove that the reason they fired her was against the law, she'd be kind of SOL. The burden would be on her.

I suggest your mom speak with the appropriate people about being reassigned to a more appropriate job, and if they deny her, I suggest that she speak with an attorney.

Also, it's not just the husbands here that are lawyers. There are many brilliant, wonderful, helpful women on this board that are lawyers themselves. I'm sure they'd be just as helpful as a husband lawyer would be :smile:.


Feb 16, 2007
Hehe. Oh yes! I know lots of the women on here are lawyers and I DEFINITELY appreciate all the kinds of advice that I have gotten. I gave my mom a link to the thread so even if I can't respond or don't check on it, she's watching.

Thank you so much for all your help.

Yes, we/she definitely know that it wasn't a good idea not to file the work comp, but it was my dad that held us back. I'm not really sure of all the details why...

But thank you ladies! I appreciate all the input because my mom and I just wanted to know all of our options before it happened (if and when), so we could be prepared.

I think amanda, that Illinois might be a Right-to-Work state, because my mom showed me the employee manual and it said in there that "they have the right to end employment, with or without cause, with or without notice."

That just didn't seem right or fair to me. :tdown:

I think I'll go in and check on that to be sure. And again, thank you SO MUCH for all the help!