Visitor Question

What recourse do I have for returning to work after injury?

Submitted By: Shannon (Hilliard, Ohio)

I was out on temporary total disability status and then my doctor decided I could return to work. I was allowed to return to work, but have several restrictions, such as no lifting more than 10 lbs, no kneeling or squatting, occasional bending and twisting, walking and standing for 1 hour for the entire shift, and no pushing or pulling.

I returned to work last week and looked at the assignment sheet. I discovered I’d been put on assignment as though I’d been released to full duty and I was able to perform the essential duties of my job. Since I was unable to do those duties, I was assigned other tasks. Those tasks were also outside my restrictions and I refused to perform them, explaining to my supervisor that I couldn’t perform duties outside my restrictions.

I was reprimanded for refusing to do my job and my supervisor wouldn’t listen when I tried to explain my restrictions. I was basically forced to perform duties outside my restrictions.

I struggled through that day and reported to work the next day, a Friday. I looked at the assignment sheet and it was the same thing – I’d been put on an assignment as though I were back to full duty. Again, I was unable to perform my job duties, except this time I was sent home. I told my supervisor that I would be back in on Monday and I was told to just go home and not to come back.

I texted my supervisor to see if I should come to work and I was told to stay home and wait until someone contacted me.

It’s been over a week. No one has contacted me and no one will return my calls. I’m still receiving physical therapy and seeing the doctor. My concern is my disability benefit payments. A manager informed me that they had no light duty assignment for me and not to come to work for the time being.

I had been receiving benefit payments, but I worked two days last week. I received nothing for the time I was off work and now I have no income and can’t even work due to my restrictions.

  1. How does that affect my benefits?
  2. Do I have to start all over with the waiting period?
  3. Can I be fired for refusing to do my job even though the duties fell outside my restrictions?
  4. Will I still get disability benefits if they decide to fire me since I can no longer work at my previous position?
  5. Can I be forced to retire on disability?

Thank you so much for any information you can provide.

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 Shannon,

Let’s address these questions one at a time:

1. How does that affect my benefits?

Your medical benefits will continue even after your termination. You have a right to such benefits as long as it can be shown your injury occurred while you were performing your job duties. Clearly, this is the case.

2. Do I have to start all over with the waiting period?

You will not be required to go through another waiting period. The waiting period only applies to the first report of injury. Your injury was initially reported and you were receiving treatment for that injury.

Section 4123.55 of the Ohio Code states in part:

“No compensation shall be allowed for the first week after an injury is received or occupational disease contracted and no compensation shall be allowed for the first week of total disability, whenever it may occur, unless and until the employee is totally disabled for a continuous period of two weeks or more, in which event compensation for the first week of total disability, whenever it has occurred, shall be paid.”

3. Can I be fired for refusing to do my job even though the duties fell outside my restrictions?

You can be discharged from your employment if it can be shown your employer does not have a position available which will accommodate your physical needs.

Section 4123.90 of the Ohio Code states in part:

“No employer shall discharge, demote, reassign, or take any punitive action against any employee because the employee filed a claim or instituted, pursued or testified in any proceedings under the workers’ compensation act for an injury or occupational disease which occurred in the course of and arising out of his employment with that employer.”

4. Will I still get disability benefits if they decide to fire me since I can no longer work at my previous position?

The State of Ohio offers those workers who are unable to work at the jobs they were trained for, and are thus not able to find similar work to have available to them, Vocational and Rehabilitation benefits.

Section 4123.18 states in part:

“(A) The bureau shall take measures and make expenditures as it deems necessary to aid injured workers who have sustained compensable injuries or contracted compensable occupational diseases to remain at work or to return to work.

(B) The objectives of the surplus funded vocational rehabilitation program are to be addressed and considered in the following order:

(1) To return the injured worker to the former employer in the original job, or, if this is not possible;

(2) To encourage the employer to modify the original job or to provide employment in a different job, or, if this is not possible;

(3) To assist the injured worker in finding employment in a related industry, and if not possible then in any industry.”

5. Can I be forced to retire on disability?

No. While you may be discharged if your employer doesn’t have a position suitable for your physical limitations, you cannot be forced to retire in disability.

Learn more here: Returning to Work After an Injury

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 with your claim,

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