Losing work hours after injury...

by Lori
(Denver, Colorado)

In June 2011 I fell and broke my wrist. My bosses were very good about time off that I needed to recover. I have no health insurance. They said they would not hire any new person to cover my shifts but would only use existing employees. That gave me the opportunity to "patient pay" at a bone specialist clinic.

I was counting on healing faster and getting back to the job I had for 20 years to pay the medical bills I would be incurring. I received the doctor's clearance and picked up my shifts, or so I thought. Both people who had covered for me were able to pick any of my shifts to add to their schedule, which left me with a Saturday shift of 10 hours and maybe a Monday shift of 5 hours every other week.

They had been cutting my shifts back over the years but this has been the most yet. They keep giving the hours to new people (who never stay more than a couple of years), then they give them back to me with the promise of not taking them again.

I feel like Charlie Brown and Lucy with that football - I believe them every time. Unfortunately, I am 62 years old and I do believe they would like me to leave and hire some new young people. I know I do a great job and I know the customers like me. But I just don't know what I am going to do. They are acting like it is "for my own good". That I "owe" these employees these hours for helping me.

For years I have covered many co-workers and felt that I was doing a good thing. I was just glad they got better. I do not call in sick and over the years I can count on my fingers how many times I have missed work because of health reasons - death of family member and a broken arm have been the only exceptions. And I did believe in their support but now they are getting mad at me for being so selfish.

Can you give me any information on what I can do? I need some kind of direction. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Losing work hours after injury...":

Lori (Denver, Colorado):

It sounds like you are a member of the generation where loyalty, dedication and hard work are values you have always taken with you at your place of employment. It also sounds like your employer has respected you for all you have given to the company for so long.

It is difficult for us to know why your employer continues to decrease your hours. It may be because the “new” employees are willing to work for less. If your employer hasn’t provided medical benefits we can assume there aren’t any unions you might go to for help.

If you feel your employer is marginalizing you as a result of your age you can consider contacting the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Council). They oversee discrimination n the workplace. If, after hearing what you have to say they are convinced this is an age discrimination matter, they might be able to some pressure on your employer to give you back your hours.

Regrettably, if that happens your work environment may become a bit uncomfortable, or even hostile. Employers don’t like to be threatened with interference from government “watchdog” agencies. Nor do they like legal action. Think the matter through carefully before you decide which path to take.

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,

Judge Calisi

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