Workers’ Compensation And Job Security
The Sunshine State, like most other jurisdictions, prohibits discrimination against workers’ compensation filers. Essentially, filing a claim places workers in a protected class. Other protected classes include ethnicity, gender, age (over 40), religion, national origin, and sexual orientation (including gender identity). But, Florida’s law is somewhat limited. It only protects people who file or attempt to file a “valid claim.” The limited nature of this law leads to some job security issues, which are outlined below.
So, obtaining compensation for medical bills and replacement for lost wages is only part of the battle in a Florida job injury case. A Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer must continue to advocate for job injury victims even after the financial aspects of the case are resolved. Along the way, we give you solid legal advice about your options, so you can make the best possible choices for yourself and your family.
Premature Return-to-Work Order
Many job injury victims in Florida don’t know they have the right to see their own doctors. If victims fail to assert this right, a premature return-to-work order could be a problem.
Company doctors have divided loyalties. Technically, the job injury victim is the patient, and the physician’s duty of care requires doctors to do what is best for their patients at all times. However, the company pays the doctor’s salary. Quite naturally, these doctors don’t want to bite the hands that feed them.
Some companies pressure some doctors to clear victims for work before they are fully ready to get back in the saddle. If that happens, the victim must either follow the doctor’s order or obtain another opinion from another doctor. Workers’ compensation might or might not pay for a second opinion, depending on the policy’s terms. If money is an issue, a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer can connect a job injury victim with a doctor who charges no money upfront for professional services.
If the victim doesn’t return to work as ordered or get a reprieve from another doctor, the victim risks adverse action, including termination. Technically, the boss isn’t disciplining the worker for filing a claim. Rather, the boss is disciplining the worker for absenteeism. The normal rules, if any, still apply. For example, most employee handbooks have an escalation clause, like verbal warning, written warning, and termination.
Failure to Accept Light-Duty Assignment
Frequently, a doctor gives a partial all-clear signal. The doctor says the victim can return to work, but the victim cannot work at full speed. Frequently, bosses pressure company doctors into issuing these orders.
Light-duty assignments are usually low paying and low intensity positions, like parking lot attendant, crossing guard, or greeter. Workers’ compensation in Florida addresses the financial aspect. In addition to their light duty salaries, these workers receive two-thirds of the difference between the old and new pay rate. However, workers’ comp doesn’t address the rather menial nature of a light duty assignment.
If a job injury victim refuses to work the assignment, the boss could discipline the worker. The boss could also discipline the worker if s/he doesn’t have a good attitude about the assignment. Since Section 440.205 doesn’t apply, the worker must either show up and work hard or get a second opinion from another doctor.
Reach Out to a Diligent Hillsborough County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.