Forced to take lower paying job after work injury?
(Castle Rock, CO)
I was hurt on the job in 2002, due to my manager not replacing a roller on a big tool bow in the back of a company truck. I asked him to have it repaired due to me having to move approx. 500 pounds or so every time I pulled it out or pushed it back into the bed of truck.
I slipped while pushing it back in one day. I took out 3 discs in my back and tore my rotator cuff. I was able to continue working until 2005, then had to get surgery on my shoulder and back. The disc surgery didn't work, so I couldn't perform my normal job duties. They said I had to take a $12,000.00 cut in pay and go to a lower position.
I feared I would lose my job of 26 years, so I took it. I ended up having to take permanent disability in Sept. 2007, after having a second lumbar surgery that didn't work out.
My workers' comp lawyer helped me to get a settlement from the gas company I worked for, but when I asked him to have my pay reinstated to pre-injury status, he said, "let's not rock the boat and just be happy with the settlement."
I was not happy about the decision he made, but was so tired of dealing with the whole lawyer/lawsuit thing with my company, I let it go. It has now been over 7 years since it was settled, and every day that goes by I get madder and madder about it. I feel I was taken advantage of by the lawyer as well as my company.
My question is, are they allowed to make me take a lower paying position, and not re-instate it back to the pay I had before my injury occurred on the job, after I became permanently disabled? I'm losing more from SSDI each month, as well as disability pay from my pension through my company each month. It all seems so wrong to me. Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Forced to take lower paying job after work injury?":
Gary (Castle Rock, CO):
While you may feel you were taken advantage of by the attorney, your employer, or both, the statute of limitations period has expired. As a result, you have no legal right to legally pursue your employer or the attorney.
In the State of Colorado, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in a personal injury or workers' compensation case is two (2) years.
For the sake of argument, your employer could have been bound by an employer/employee manual setting out the rights and obligations of the employer and of the workers. This may have been especially pertinent in the matter of your having been offered a lower paying position.
Absent an employer/employee manual stipulating job duties and job access, you were at the mercy of your employer. While it is illegal for an employer to fire a worker strictly based on the worker's having filed a workers' comp claim, an employer can terminate the employment of an injured worker at any time.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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