An Employer must provide true light duty work
Regularly employers indicate to the employee that they have light duty work available for the employee. When the employee returns to work he or she is pressured into performing tasks that are outside of the limitations the doctor ordered. While some flexibility on the injured workers part may be in his or her best interest, the employee must be careful not to injure themselves simply to appease their employer.
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It is NOT ok when an employer does not provide true accommodations to the injured Maryland worker!
Anyone with a serious injury should not be required to return to work and push their physical limitations to a point where they could further injure themselves. Maryland workers compensation laws are not designed to force the injured worker to perform tasks that could lead to further injury and stunt the progress of medical treatment.
If you are reading this then you may be in the situation as follows: Your doctor is indicating you can return to work but you can not lift over a certain amount of weight, stand or sit for any extended period of time, work for more than x amount of hours, or can not do specific tasks. The employer indicates they can accommodate the restrictions and as the injured worker you return to work under restrictions or light duty. Eventually there is pressure to perform more than what the doctors advise such as lift 25 lbs when the restrictions clearly indicate no more than 15 pounds. The pressure to perform “more” may come from other employees, a supervisor, or simply a miscommunication between workmans comp and the employer. Regardless of where the pressure came from it is up to the employee to stand up for themselves if they feel that re-injury or a new injury is imminent.
What is the injured worker responsibility under Maryland workers compensation laws when released to work light duty?
Under Maryland’s workers compensation laws the injured worker must return to work if the employer is able to accommodate the restrictions. The injured worker is not required to do more than the treating doctor indicates unless the Workers Compensation Commission has issued an Order to the contrary to what the treating physician has stated.
Unfortunately the injured worker will have to return to work performing any job the employer finds for the worker as long as it is within their restrictions. This could include a construction worker that has to file papers in the office, a truck driver that has to count paper clips, or a maintenance man that has to answer phones.
If the hourly rate of pay is reduced the employee may still be obligated to return to the new job depending on the amount of the reduction as well as other factors that come in to play.
Many injured workers are reluctant to take such jobs which ultimately leads to their benefits being cut off and a termination letter from the employer.
What could happen if the injured worker decides not to go to work when the Doctor issued light duty restrictions?
This is often the most difficult scenario for those who were hurt at work as they must decide to put their financial health over and above their physical health but maintain employment OR place their physical health over their financial health and possibly lose their job and suffer financial distress. A workers compensation attorney can not make this decision for the injured worker. To do so would be presumptuous. An attorney can only advise as to the best case scenario and the worst case scenario under Maryland law.
If the injured worker decides it is best not to return to work there is a chance the workers attorney can obtain lost wages by going to a hearing before the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission. There is also a chance the lost wages or temporary total benefits are not reinstated, or the employee loses his or her job.
If an employer is offering what they believe is an accommodation then it is usually in the best interest of the employee to attempt to return to work. To be sure, contacting a workers compensation attorney for a free consultation is a good option.
Can a Maryland employer fire the injured worker for not coming into work?
Maryland is an at will state which means an employer can terminate an employee for almost any reason. There are, however, some protections under the law. In certain circumstances an employee is protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act which could provided 12 weeks of job security. An employer can also not terminate an employee based on age, race, gender, religion, disability, and others. For legal advice a labor and employment attorney should be contacted.
For a no cost consultation with Maryland workers compensation attorney Andrew Rodabaugh call +1 (410) 937-1659