When decisions are made based around money versus what’s best and safest for a worker, it’s more likely that worker will get injured.
I see this principle in play a lot when it comes to injured Illinois workers who have been given job restrictions by their doctor. Employers and insurance companies don’t want to continue to pay you not to work, so they will try to find you a job when they can. That can be a good thing and a bad thing.
Many employers care about their workers and if a doctor tells you that you can’t lift more than 20 pounds, they will make sure that happens. Some though only care about themselves. You can come back with a doctor’s note, but they’ll ask you to do just one thing that violates those restrictions and then another. At times they will ignore the restrictions altogether or make you feel bad for not helping out. It’s ridiculous and serves their best interests, not yours.
It even happens when your employer is the government. In a recent court case, a Cook County court room clerk had a light duty job restriction after she fell in a hole, hurting her knee and back. She had a surgery recommendation and had to take a lot of narcotic pain medication. A doctor for the County said she could do a desk job with minimal walking.
She went back to work and waited around, but no actual job duties appeared. Her return to work documents did not get processed. She was in pain so she left and her TTD benefits got cut off.
At trial not only was she awarded back TTD benefits, but she was also awarded penalties and fees. This is because it was an invalid job offer. Your employer can’t say that they have work for you within your restrictions and then not actually provide that work.
At the trial, the supervisor for the injured worker testified that she wouldn’t be allowed to return to work if she was on narcotics. This happens a lot where the person worried about the bottom line has one opinion, but the person who supervises the workers has another. At a big employer like the County it’s not surprising that everyone isn’t communicating with each other and that different people have different goals. But that doesn’t mean that you should be punished by having to risk further injury or not getting paid.
In the end, justice prevailed for this worker. If you have any physical restrictions due to a job injury, make sure to carry a copy of that note with you, make sure everyone is aware of it and don’t exceed those restrictions.
And as always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can contact us for free.