Physically ineligible: Is he entitled to recall?

When six recalled employees showed up for work Monday morning, Maintenance Foreman Joe Mullen was shocked to see that one, Carpenter Grade I Harry Berne, had lost his left hand in an automobile accident sometime during the layoff.
By Raymond Dreyfack March 1, 1999

When six recalled employees showed up for work Monday morning, Maintenance Foreman Joe Mullen was shocked to see that one, Carpenter Grade I Harry Berne, had lost his left hand in an automobile accident sometime during the layoff.

Mullen handed the other five workers their time cards but held back Berne’s. No way would he have been hired if he was a new applicant.

“That accident was a rough break,” Mullen said sympathetically, “and I’ll put you in for a transfer for clerical work if you want. But I don’t see how you can continue in your former classification now that you’re handicapped.”

“I checked that out with the doctor,” Berne replied. “He says there’s no reason I can’t pick up right where I was before the accident with a little adjustment. I’m being fitted for a prosthetic device. I’ll even be able to lift heavy stuff. Before long I’ll be good as new.”

Mullen frowned. “I don’t know, Harry…”

“There’s nothing to know. A guy doesn’t lose his skills and experience because he loses a hand.”

“You may have a point. I’ll check it out with the boss and get back to you.”

Question: Is Berne’s contention that he’ll be “good as new” wishful thinking? Would you reinstate him in his old job?

Pollock’s verdict: “Put him back as Grade I,” Plant Engineer Fred Pollock instructed Mullen. “His doctor’s prognosis should be all we need to give him a crack at his former job. It’s both the humane and pragmatic course of action to take. If, after giving him a fair chance to make good, his performance suffers because of his handicap, or if we see there’s a safety problem involved, we can deal with it then.”