A while ago, I spoke to a great guy who has been a prison guard for quite some time in Illinois. He has multiple injuries that are clearly related to his job activities. He’s in tremendous pain every day and can barely pick up his grandchild anymore. Years ago some Illinois prison guards were given a hard time over bringing work comp claims and the higher ups discourage it. So even though he seems to be headed to permanent disability, he’s hesitant to bring a case because he feels bad and is “not the suing type.”
I thought of him and others like him the other day when I read about what Tyson Foods is allegedly doing to their employees. A new lawsuit accuses them of betting money on how many of their workers would get Covid. It was brought by the son of a worker who died from Coronavirus that they got on the job.
This wasn’t some flippant remark, but rather a winner take all cash pool on how many people would get sick according to the article. Tyson also reportedly ignored recommendations to shut down due to unsafe conditions and ordered people with Covid symptoms to still work.
You can’t imagine much grosser behavior, but it happens all the time and quite often at big companies like this. From Amazon workers forced to pee in bottles to Walmart denying rest breaks to UPS creating a toxic culture of fear, there have been numerous lawsuits that allege just shocking treatment of workers.
What it shows, in my opinion, is that many employers don’t view their workers as human. Is every company this blatant about it? No. But odds are greater that your employer doesn’t really give a crap about you than that they think about your injury and hope you have a speedy recovery.
The point I’m trying to make is that if you feel bad about exercising your rights under Illinois work comp law, you are probably being conned. Employers and insurance companies for years have tried to market against bringing cases and it works. All too often what happens is a “good guy” gets hurt on the job, doesn’t bring a case because the employer doesn’t want them to or says they’ll pay the bills, the employer doesn’t do anything and the “good guy” gets stuck with bills, not job and an injury that won’t go away.
Bringing a work comp claim is not a lawsuit. It’s a claim for benefits no different than filing for health insurance if you get sick or unemployment if you get laid off. But since attorneys get involved, some people feel it’s taboo and ignore the fact that these are benefits they are entitled to by law.
Companies like Tyson make me sick and I get extra joy in bringing cases against them and helping their workers. But no matter who you work for or how great/terrible your employer seems to treat you, you should never feel bad about getting the benefits that the law gives you.