Workers’ Comp Claimants Are Protected Against Retaliation
When a plan to return to work runs smoothly, the employer understands the employee’s work restrictions and finds ways to accommodate the employee in the same or a different job. Unfortunately, employees often run into problems when the time nears for them to return to work.
Common Challenges When Returning To Work After An Injury
- Is the worker actually medically ready to come back to work? Sometimes the employer or work comp insurance carrier tries to force the worker back on the job too soon.
- Will the employee be put to work full time before he or she is able to do so?
- Can the employee do all of the tasks of the previously held job or is a light-duty job in order for some period of time?
- If the employee has medical restrictions, can and will the employer accommodate those restrictions?
For example, an employee with a back injury may be told by the doctor that he or she can go back to work with a 20 pound lifting restriction and cannot bend, twist or crawl. The employer’s medical expert says the employee can lift up to 50 pounds and the employer therefore offers a job that requires lifting 50 pounds occasionally. That’s a significant difference.
Are Injured Workers Protected By The Law?
Pennsylvania workers’ comp law, and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family and Medical Leave Act may all come into play to protect the ill or injured worker and to define the rights and responsibilities of the employer. These protections include the right to accommodation, to protection from harassment and disability discrimination, and protection from wrongful termination due to disability.
We Are Proud To Serve Pennsylvania’s Workers
At the law office of Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C., our worker’s compensation lawyers have been helping injured workers for more than three decades. Contact our offices in Pottstown, West Chester, Reading and Pennsburg, Pennsylvania law office to schedule a free initial consultation if you are experiencing any of the following:
- If you are being pressured to return to work
- If the company’s medical experts are contradicting your treating doctor
- If you believe the company is trying to force you to quit by failing to make needed accommodation.
Our attorneys Levi S. Wolf and Daniel E. McCabe are certified workers’ compensation law specialists by the Workers’ Compensation Law section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s, as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. They can assist you in protecting your rights when it comes to returning to work after a serious on-the-job accident.
What Is Retaliation And What Can An Employer Legally Do?
Your employer cannot legally retaliate against you because you have made a workers’ compensation claim or because of your disability. But your employer does not have to give you back your exact old job. In fact, your employer must offer you a job that you can do with the medical restrictions you have. Your employer may offer you a different job, may move you to a different shift, or a different location. This is not retaliation if there is a medical and/or work-related reason for the change.
As an employee, you have an obligation to make a good faith effort to try the job you are being offered if it meets your medical restrictions.
Can Benefits Be Modified, Suspended Or Terminated?
If you fail to take the job you are offered, and that job was offered in good faith, the employer may petition the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to modify or suspend your benefits. The employer will claim that you are capable of doing the job and will ask the workers’ comp judge to find that you are capable of earning the wages from the offered job, and therefore to decrease your work comp payments as if you were actually receiving those earnings.
The workplace retaliation attorney working on your case will then need to defend the modification or suspension petition. The lawyer may seek to prove that the job being offered was not a good faith accommodation for your disability but was instead a form of retaliation, or that the job offered was medically inappropriate, or that the job could cause you further injury.
Workers’ Compensation Help Is Here
Offices in Pottstown, West Chester, Reading and Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, serving communities such as Downingtown, Wyomissing, Horsham, Douglassville and Coatesville
We represent injured workers throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer online.
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