Stuck on "light work" 6 months after full recovery?

by Rusty
(Tallahassee, FL)

I work and live in Florida. Before I was hurt, I worked 5 days a week, approx. 30-40 hours as a poker dealer. I averaged $25-30 per hour in tips as well as $4.71/hr. One night I fell in the hallway in the back and injured my right wrist. I was sent home, went to the doctor the next day, and put on light duty with a max weight and no pushing or pulling.

As a result of this, I was scheduled to be a dual rate poker dealer/tournament director. As a TD, I average less than $10 an hour after the tip share is distributed. After six weeks or so of going to the doctor and working as a TD in the meantime, I was released from worker's comp with full abilities. After being released I was told they would work me back into dealing poker.

It has been over 6 months and I am still a tournament director. I have dealt on maybe two shifts during this time. My pay cut from before is so drastic that I am on the verge of losing my apartment. My car needs multiple repairs and I need to have 2 abscessed teeth pulled. I would be able to do all this if my pay had gone back to normal after being released.

To make matters worse, about 6 weeks ago, they hired 3 new poker dealers - first new hires since I was hurt. These new people are now dealing 5 days a week in my old position while I am still directing tournaments. As dual-rate employees like me, they should be held to the same responsibilities. Also, I suppose my 2 year history here does not matter.

Do I have any claim? Or is it just time to move on and find something else? Do they have any responsibility to put me back in my old position? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Stuck on "light work" 6 months after full recovery?":

Rusty (Tallahassee, FL):

Under State and Federal workers compensation laws injured workers have no rights to be reassigned, after sustaining an injury, to their former job duties or their former pay rate.

There are some exceptions. They are:

1. A worker who has been impliedly or overtly promised by an empowered supervisor, manager, or business owner, that the worker will be reassigned to his former job duties and/or pay rate has a contractual right to resume his former job duties and/or former pay rate.

2. When an employer publishes an employee manual or other written agreement applicable to workers which promises to restore injured workers to their former job duties and/or pay rate.

3. When the employer has in place an appellate procedure wherein workers who believe they have been unfairly denied their rights can remonstrate their grievances.

Unless you fall within one or more of the above exceptions you may have to accept your fate, or as you mentioned, move on to something else.

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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