1. Working as a data science consultant
  2. Sustained a back injury during my military service (with medical documentation)


I have been asked to work until 1-2am for a week performing physical labor, lifting of boxes to support a client project despite having sounded out my medical condition. Due to a lack of manpower, we juniors (I'm one of them) had to abandon our daily tasks to support this effort.

During that week, I took a day off with a medical certificate due to my aggravated back condition. Upon returning back to work, I was sent back to the client place with the same exact physical tasks as the project is still ongoing.

During my less than half a year of working in this company, this is my first non-job scope related task.


How should I handle future occurrences of such events?

  • 4
    Oops it means 'Medical Certificate' – Javier Apr 23 '19 at 14:16
  • 25
    Why would a company take what are presumably well-paid staff (even "junior" data scientists are rare enough) and have them waste their time doing monkey-work? Particularly a consultant? – user1666620 Apr 23 '19 at 14:51
  • 14
    Assuming your fellow juniors are also well-paid specialists, I'm tempted to suggest you all club together, subcontract a team of professional fitters through your local equivalent of checkatrade.com for a fraction of what you're all being paid for the week, and spend the time and the difference on a beach holiday while the fitters do the physical work better and faster than you could... – user56reinstatemonica8 Apr 23 '19 at 15:50
  • 11
    "monkey-work"? Unnecessary. Don't shame honest work. – Matt Malone Apr 23 '19 at 21:05
  • 5
    @user1666620 because the job needed doing, and it needed doing now. I have carried boxes of equipment from one place to another before, because they needed moving. It's cheaper getting a few existing employees to do it, even senior ones, than to go through the process of hiring temporary people just to move a few boxes. – Simon B Apr 23 '19 at 22:15

Tell them how it is. You provided your medical documents up front, they should not be making you do such tasks.

Tell them that you are not going to do the tasks to avoid chronic injury. You have the official documents to support this.

If they say otherwise then talk to HR. They're not going to risk such a thing due to a lack of manpower.

  • 47
    the lack of manpower especially will get worse if you prevent a data scientist from working for weeks or months for a task which an untrained external person could have done for a small amount of money. – Sascha Apr 23 '19 at 10:13
  • 14
    I would add that they are risking a lawsuit if further injury occurs, and certainly facing Workman's Comp claims. – Keith Apr 23 '19 at 13:48
  • 22
    I'd say you don't even need a medical history for that sort of task to injure you permanently. "I'm a data scientist, I'm neither trained nor equiped to do heavy lifting" should be sufficient reason. – AmiralPatate Apr 23 '19 at 14:08
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    @AmiralPatate The question doesn't state that the lifting is heavier than a regular person can do, and training to lift things that a regular person can lift only takes a few minutes. So, really, the medical certificate is crucial, here. – David Richerby Apr 23 '19 at 17:03
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    @DavidRicherby To be fair, odds are the job has no strength or endurance requirements for lifting. An hour a day of physical labour could definitely be an issue for some workers, even without a specific medical condition. Although most people could likely do it, it seems pretty far outside of the scope you might expect for the role. – JMac Apr 23 '19 at 18:07

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