Sometimes, when people get hurt at work, the injury is so severe that it means they can never return to their jobs. These individuals often qualify for permanent disability protections.
Other workers suffer less severe injuries. They may need to adjust their workflow or use assistive devices to continue working. However, with proper accommodations, they can return to work.
Helping workers get back on the job is a good thing
An injured worker returning to work instead of seeking disability coverage should be beneficial to everyone involved. Most companies will help an injured worker get back to work by changing their job duties, providing assistive technology or otherwise accommodating the limits that come with the injury.
The sad truth is that not all employers are willing to work with someone who suffered a work injury and needs accommodations to return to the job. Employers may find it faster to discharge the person who got hurt, instead of trying to help them return to the job. That is a form of discrimination, and you should stand up for yourself if your employer will not work with you after an injury.
Federal law protects injured workers from discrimination
People living with injuries and disabilities have the right to fair treatment by employers. That includes employers not discriminating against someone for an injury. Typically, employers should not consider an injury or disability when determining whether to hire, promote or fire a worker.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), injured and disabled workers have the right to request reasonable accommodations from their employers. All employers with 15 or more employees should comply with the requirements of the ADA and work with injured and disabled employees.
So long as a request does not present an undue hardship for a company, the employer should do their best to work with the disabled or injured employee. All too often, employers choose to discriminate against injured workers by refusing them simple accommodations that could allow them to return to work.
Be willing to stand up for yourself after a work injury
Requesting reasonable accommodations should not be grounds for termination or discrimination at your workplace. Whether you need a stool to rest on or a change in work duties to accommodate your injury, your employer should work with you, within reason.
The fear of retaliation and discrimination often keeps employees from seeking workers’ compensation benefits or requesting basic accommodations that could make their lives less painful. You shouldn’t have to suffer in silence or lose your job for standing up for your rights.
If your employer is not working with you after an injury or has terminated you for requesting workers’ compensation coverage or workplace accommodations, you may need to look into your legal rights.