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Back Injury - Georgia Employer is forcing me to return to full duty - Printable Version

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Back Injury - Georgia Employer is forcing me to return to full duty - nitto85 - 04-04-2015

This is for a Georgia Workers Comp Claim.

Hello, my back was injured at work July 2013, injury was reported the day of, but the claim was filed on the 3rd day after injury.
Initial diagnosis was a "strain", I attended all required follow-up and physical therapy visits. I was not getting any better so I pleaded with the Doctor to send me for a MRI.

If I recall correctly, in Oct. 2013 they sent me for a MRI and found out that it was a bulging disc. I attended all Orthopedic Dr appointments, and had two separate Corticosteroid spinal injection procedures performed.

After the second injection procedure, around April 2014 they sent me for FCE (functional capacity evaluation), to determine my lifting capabilities. I recall the physical therapist that performed the FCE telling me that I did not need to go back to full duty, and that my max lifting capacity was going to be 70lbs. I also was legally labeled/classified as being 5% disabled, and received a check in the mail.

This week my employer told me that I was no longer covered by the workers comp claim, and that I needed to return to full duty. I called my WC adjuster and she stated that the FCE said that my max lifting capacity was 70lbs, but since I was not required to lift 70lbs at my job that they did not put it down as a permanent work restriction. I advised her that was incorrect and that in our employment handbook it states 100lbs, and that we are often asked to go above that. She said that she would call me back, 3 days later and I have not heard back from her.

I work in a plumbing supply warehouse where we are asked to move anything from small fittings, to large industrial steel fittings, and 600lb-700lb+ refrigerators by hand. I am afraid that I might get injured again, but my employer is telling me that if my 70lb lifting limit is enforced, I may not have a job. While I feel like the WC insurer will tell me that I knew what my limit was and that it is my fault.

What are my rights? There have not been any issues at work with what I have done until this week, and now they're riding my case every day, they have made it very clear that if I do not start to full duty I probably will not have a job.

Thank you

RE: Back Injury - Georgia Employer is forcing me to return to full duty - 1171 - 04-04-2015

worker's comp does not use "fault" as a determination; if you are employed and hurt on the job you are covered -fault or not.
the employer is not required to provide modified or light work.
if you are off work and have not reached Maximum Medical improvement you are entitled to Temporary disability payments until you are released to return to work or reach MMI.
most employments are covered by FMLA and have 12 weeks of job protection while you are off work.
more info on FMLA rights here
more information on Georgia comp benefits in the handbook and here

Under ADA you also have the right to a discussion with your employer about reasonable accommodation