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Returnig to work after an injury
#1
I read a great article about their father's experience with being an injured worker. This story was highlighted in workcompcentral blog by David DePoalo. I am passing the information along to injured workers, who can also benefit from this topic.

http://annmariecommunicatesinsurance.wor...ers-story/

She also wrote an article about keeping communication open between the employer and employee. This will help with the goal of returning to work. I have always believed that employers who do not have a hostile attitude towards the people who file workers compensation claims and actually have empathy for them, keep communication open, and find ways to accommodate their employee are the best employers to work for. This is a good article about keeping the lines of communication open. She also gives helpful ideas on how to do this.

http://annmariecommunicatesinsurance.wor...ion-plans/

Unfortunately, in California and I suppose other states as well many employers consider an injured worker a liability, or that some way the injured worker is suing them. Once an injured worker hires an attorney, this almost always leads to the cut off of communication between the employer and employee. In my opinion this is a mistake, and ultimately hurts the injured worker.

California is considered an "at will state". Many believe this means employees who have work related injures can be fired at any time. They also believe employers do not have to accommodate them when they try to return to work, and tell them they can only return to work if they are 100% and have no restrictions. In my opinion both are wrong. It is 100% illegal to state an employee can only return to work with 100% healed policies.

This is a good article about this called "100% healed policies 100% illegal".

http://celavoice.org/2013/10/03/employer...ities-act/

This is an excerpt from the article that gives an example of the interactive process and what some employers do wrong by not attempting to accommodate an employee with restrictions.

" She is ready to come back to work and suggests a less physically demanding retail position. However, the Human Resources Director informs her, “don’t come back until you are 100% better,” and Cynthia is never going to be “100% healed.” She will always have limitations that will require some accommodation from her employer in order to perform her job.

However, she is not deterred. In anticipation of returning to work, Cynthia schedules a meeting with her supervisors to discuss the modifications she will need, but they cancel it. Then, out of the blue, she receives a letter from the company terminating her employment. The reason: job abandonment — failure to return from leave.

Cynthia’s experience is not unique. Employee advocates report that termination after a disability leave or a request for accommodation are two of the most frequent reasons why an employee will contact a lawyer. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), one of the “hottest areas of EEOC litigation right now involves the agency’s efforts to root out inflexible leave policies – particularly those that supposedly eliminate an employer’s legal obligation to explore and make reasonable accommodations for employees returning from medical leaves of absence.”

The California Commission on Health and Safety and Worker Compensation has published a “Helping Injured Employees Return to Work,” a handbook of practical guidance for businesses. It provides as examples of inappropriate policies:
Requiring that injured employees be released to full duty without restrictions or be healed 100 percent before returning.
Always terminating an employee if he or she is unable to return to full duty after a specific, fixed period.
Delaying discussion of job accommodations until the employee’s condition is permanent and stationary.

Almost all courts that have examined these so-called “100% healed” policies have concluded that they are an outright violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. When an employee is out on disability leave, companies must communicate with the employee, preferably in person, in what is called the good faith interactive process. All attempts to reasonably accommodate the employee to allow him or her to perform the essential functions of the job should be made.

The rules for reasonable accommodations protect all of us. After all, we never know when one of us or a loved one may become sick or injured and require some form of leave or accommodation. It’s a shame that it sometimes takes a lawsuit to hold companies accountable when they break the rules. But what’s clear is this — when it comes to “100% healed” policies, employers should take heed that the justice system is going to hold them 100% liable."

The ADA/DFHE and other States have laws to protect injured workers.
Injured workers should read about their rights under state and federal anti-discrimination laws. There are strict time frames for filing potential discrimination complaints against an Employer, if it is found that you are potentially being discriminated against by your Employer/Supervisor/co-workers. I suggest you consult with a Labor Law Attorney, and contact your local EEOC/DFEH offices, and any other federal and state agencies that handle disability discrimination and labor law.

Not all injuries/disabilities are covered under ADA laws.

This is a link to Federal ADA laws.
http://askjan.org/Erguide/Three.htm

Individual state has specific state ADA laws.

Hopefully, injured workers will not need the information about how to proceed if their employer discriminates against them.

learning about "the interactive process" and how to return to work with restrictions is important. Both sides of the fence have to be educated in this for it to be successful. Keeping communication open between employee and employer is important.

I wish employers had a different mindset and attitude towards those who are injured at work, and know they, their loved ones and also their children can be susceptible to ALSO have a work related injury one day. Injuries do not discriminate, but some employers do.
I am not an attorney.Anything I write should not be considered legal advice.I am writing from my own personal experiences,which is not from any sort of legal background. You should consult with an attorney over legal issues. In California, if you cannot get an attorney you can consult with an I&A officer.
 
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#2
California is an "at will state". Many believe this means you can be terminated for no reason, and the employer does not have to attempt to accommodate your restrictions after a work related injury. This is not true.

Below is an article about police officers in California who won a law suit against their employer for not accommodating them after a work related injury. If your employer terminates you after a work related injury, I suggest consulting with an experienced labor law attorney. There are deadlines to pursue action against this in California. Not all injuries are covered under ADA laws.

http://www.enquirerherald.com/2014/05/05...9/117/365/

I am not an attorney.Anything I write should not be considered legal advice.I am writing from my own personal experiences,which is not from any sort of legal background. You should consult with an attorney over legal issues. In California, if you cannot get an attorney you can consult with an I&A officer.
 
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#3
http://daviddepaolo.blogspot.com/2014/12...ility.html

I am going to keep this thread going. Hopefully it will help some injured workers return to work. The above link discusses ADA. Not all injuries and illnesses are covered under state and federal ADA laws. It is good to know your rights BEFORE attempting the interactive process to return to work. In California, you do not have to disclose you have had a prior work related claim. You only need to disclose the need for accommodations if you need accommodations for the position you are applying for. If you do not need accommodations...I do not recommend mentioning you have had an injury (this is for California IW's).
I am not an attorney.Anything I write should not be considered legal advice.I am writing from my own personal experiences,which is not from any sort of legal background. You should consult with an attorney over legal issues. In California, if you cannot get an attorney you can consult with an I&A officer.
 
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#4
http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/employ.htm

This link has info on Employment Laws: Medical and Disability-Related Leave for all states.

This is another good link that is geared for the employer. I am posting it as I think it will help those who have restrictions and are going through the interview process.

http://www.smallbusinessnotes.com/managi...lines.html
I am not an attorney.Anything I write should not be considered legal advice.I am writing from my own personal experiences,which is not from any sort of legal background. You should consult with an attorney over legal issues. In California, if you cannot get an attorney you can consult with an I&A officer.
 
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