Colleen was the Housekeeper at a nursing facility. She made a habit of telling her coworkers, and almost anyone else who would listen, that she despised her job;
and she was only working there because her husband was out of work. One day, Colleen approached her manager and indicated that she slipped while mopping and hurt her arm. There were no witnesses, however, due to the alleged injury, Colleen stated she had to have surgery. She was placed on workers compensation.
Every summer, like clockwork, Colleen would tell her boss that she had to rest her arm and it could take 2 – 3 months for her to be ready to work again. The facility would approve her for workers compensation payments to cover her time off work. This went on repeatedly for several years.
Is there anything the employer could have done to not incur that cost? Maybe.
It is a good idea for employers to work closely with their legal counsel to determine their options when it comes to workers compensation claims. In the above scenario, the employer did nothing to alleviate the situation; therefore it probably won’t take long before other employees want to jump on the bandwagon, i.e., “me too”. Thereby, it could get extremely costly for the employer.
How to Fix the Mistake
Along with working with legal counsel and/or workers compensation specialist, insurance company, and human resources; the employer should make sure the employee’s physician has a copy of the employee’s job description to determine if the employee could work with or without restrictions; if possible. The employer could also have a pre-arranged work situation for employees who need accommodations.
However, to avoid litigation, it is best to work with a workers compensation specialist, the employer’s workers compensation insurance company, human resources, and/or legal.