Office Chair Causing Back Problems, Can I Claim Workers Comp?

by Roxanne
(Austin, TX)

Two weeks ago our work office was moved to a new building and we were assigned new chairs. By the 3rd day in the chair I felt discomfort and the 4th day the back part of the chair kept sliding down. I asked our team leader to have my chair switched to the old chair and they said they would look into it that day.

I advised both my supervisors about the chair issue, said I was in pain and asked to leave to see a doctor. I went to a clinic and told them the pain I was experiencing was because of the chair. They gave me pain medication and said it might be a slipped disk. I needed to get MRI and they told me not to go to work for a week.

Today is the second day I've been back to work and my chair is the same. A mass email was sent to all employees when I was out stating that we would need doctors notes in order to have the chairs switched out.

I felt the same discomfort from sitting in the chair after I returned and advised Human Resources of issue. They suggested I see another doctor. I told them I was out of paid time off and nothing covered my last week while I was out. They stated they would look into the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for me. There is still nothing about fixing the issue.

Now the doctor I saw today wants me out of work for another week and I have an MRI scheduled for tomorrow. All these appointments and medications are not being covered by the company. Is it possible for me to file a workers comp claim even though I'm in and out of work? Is there anything else I can do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Office Chair Causing Back Problems, Can I Claim Workers Comp?":

Roxanne (Austin, TX):

If your company is covered by Workmans Compensation insurance your injuries and lost wages should be compensated appropriately. As long as you are seeing the doctors provided by your employer and its insurance company, and the same doctors continue to confirm your injuries and need to stay away from work, there shouldn’t be any problem.

The Family Medical Leave Act may also provide additional resources, including compensation for lost time. You must understand other than the additional protection afforded you by the Family Medical Leave Act, it is altogether possible your employment may be terminated.

If your employment is terminated it's unlikely you will have a viable claim against your employer for wrongful termination of employment. These types of employment terminations occur when in the opinion of the employer the duties the employee normally performs must be continued.

A claim against your employer for wrongful termination might be successful if you were able to prove such termination was as a result of race, color, religion, age, or gender.

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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