Sometimes when I hear about how cruel or unreasonable some Illinois employers are, it doesn’t seem like real life. I just can’t imagine treating a worker or anyone the way that they do.

Take, for example, a guy that recently contacted me. He works a heavy-duty job and was hurt because his boss didn’t properly tie down a load which then fell on his foot, tearing some ligaments in the process. His doctor has him in a boot and says he can walk, but can’t do any lifting beyond 15 pounds and needs to be able to sit whenever he feels the need.

Of course, the boss is asking him to lift way more than 15 pounds and work on uneven ground. He called him a pussy when he resisted and is threatening his job. All of this is illegal.

This isn’t a rare story. It’s usually happening with the “macho” type jobs where there is a lot of heavy work involved. The fact is that if they can’t accommodate your restrictions, you are entitled to payment to be off work until the restrictions go away. But we see it all the time. They say they will work with you, but then they just want you to help with one thing or give someone a hand. Most people feel pressured and do it even though it puts their long-term health at risk.

And while it’s not as common, we’ve seen teachers who are supposed to be on sit-down duty required to act as hall monitors. We’ve seen secretaries with wrist injuries required to lift heavy boxes. We see security guards with leg injuries who aren’t supposed to walk asked to walk around a facility.

It happens over and over. So what can you do about it?

The biggest deterrent to this happening is formally filing a case with a lawyer through the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. It doesn’t stop every bad actor, but once an employer or insurance company knows you have an attorney in your corner, they tend to stop a lot of the nonsense.

The second thing you can do is refuse to break your restrictions. Just calmly say, “I can’t because my doctor doesn’t want me doing that and I don’t want to make the injury worse and delay my recovery.” Then make sure to document in writing who asked you, what they wanted you to do, what the response was, etc. You want to have this information preserved if it ever needs to be addressed.

Most people go along with the illegal harassment because they want to be a “good worker” and worry about losing their job. Please note that Illinois work comp laws protect you. If you have any restrictions due to a work accident and are terminated, you are immediately entitled to TTD benefits for your time off work and will continue to receive them until your restrictions go away. And if they fired you for not breaking your restrictions that would be highly illegal and potentially expose the employer to a six or seven-figure wrongful termination lawsuit.

Beyond that, when you have a lawyer on the case, if you are asked to work beyond your restrictions, we typically can stop that by reporting it to the insurance adjuster. They want you to get healthy ASAP and limit what they have to pay you. So they know that if you do work you shouldn’t, it increases the chances your injury will get worse and will cost them more money. So they will remind the employer not to do it. It’s probably the only time the insurance company will have the best interests of the worker even when it’s for their own selfish reasons.

Bottom line is that this is a problem, but one that can be solved. If you want a free consultation to discuss how to deal with it, you can call us any time and speak with a lawyer at 312-346-5578.