They happen even when best efforts are made by employers to provide a safe workplace and workers are performing their job in a safe manner. When a worker gets injured on the job, there are new pressures on both the employer and the worker. The employer has to find a way to get the work done, while that worker recovers, and must additionally cover any Workers’
Compensation benefits for lost wages and medical expenses due to the worker. The employer may also have to make accommodations to honor any doctor-recommended work restrictions when the worker returns to the job.
Meanwhile, the worker is injured and will need time to recover before returning to work. They may have pain, require medication, physical therapy, and other medical treatments to address their condition. Upon return to work, they may not be able to fully perform the functions of the job for some time.
Workers’ Compensation is an insurance program that covers workplace injuries on a no-fault basis. If you have been injured at work, then you do not have to prove negligence on the part of the employer to receive compensation.
Under the program, you are entitled to be paid for time off and medical expenses, within certain limits, depending on the state. This ensures, among other things, that your job will still be there once you return.
Employers of an injured worker may be tempted to fire the worker. But, doing so would be illegal. Workers’ Compensation ensures that, after suffering a work injury, not only will you have benefits to cover wage-loss and medical matters, but your job will still be waiting for you when your recovery is complete. The system cannot work if injured workers simply lose their jobs.
Yet some employers will try to avoid meeting their Worker’s Compensation obligations by forcing the injured worker to resign. This is also illegal, as it clearly goes against the security provided by the insurance.
When you return to work, pay attention to how you are treated. Things like changing hours to those that interfere with known commitments, being relocated to a distant site, being given more than your fair share of work, ignoring your back-to-work restrictions, a hostile work environment, and other similar actions are improper and may rise to the level of illegal conduct.
It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who is entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Unexpected demotions, sudden and inexplicable policy changes, and an overall change in how you are regarded by supervisors and coworkers should not occur. Returning workers must be treated fairly.
If you suspect you are being retaliated against or forced out please contact the law offices of Negrete Law Firm at 602-495-1005.
credit: Jeffrey S. Gross