Visitor Question

Returning to work with restrictions?

Submitted By: Anonymous (MA)

I fell at work and suffered a non-displaced fracture of my left proximal humerus. I’ve been on workers compensation for 7 weeks. My doctor cleared me to return to work with no heavy lifting and no reaching with my left arm. I got a prescription to begin physical therapy 2x per week for 6 weeks. The bone fracture has healed but PT is required to regain range of motion and strength in my left arm.

My employer is refusing to allow me to return to work unless I bring in a note that says I am 100% healed with no restrictions. Is this legal in Massachusetts? The doctor cleared me to return to work with restrictions so shouldn’t the employer give me some work within my restriction? Any information you can give would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

Unfortunately the State of Massachusetts recognizes “at will” employer-worker relationships. This means employers have a right to terminate a worker’s employment at anytime, and for just about any reason. This also applies to workers compensation matters.

Your employer has a right to deny you employment until you supply her with a letter from your doctor confirming you are “100% healed with no restrictions.” Your employer also has a right to deny you employment at a less burdensome position.

The State of Massachusetts Workers Compensation Board recognizes the at-will employer-worker relationship. As a result, the Board does not get into the middle of employer-worker conflicts.

There are several exceptions to Massachusetts’ at will employment doctrine. An employer cannot fire a worker, or deny a worker employment if:

-The employer fires a worker for filing a workers compensation claim

-The employer fires or refuses to hire a worker based on race, color, creed, sexual preference, age or gender

-There exists a written contract of employment between the employer and worker

-If the employer fails to follow written company guidelines providing an appellate process to a worker who has been terminated from employment.

If you fall under any of the above categories you may have the basis of an unfair termination claim. If that’s the case you can always schedule an appointment with an attorney who specializes in Labor Law.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: November 8, 2013

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