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WC/Employment Advice Needed Florida

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  • WC/Employment Advice Needed Florida

    I am writing this for my husband, who, is stressing out over this situation. Sorry this is so long, but want to make sure you have all the information.

    My husband started work for this company in June 1997, so he has been with them 20 years.

    On August 16, 2017, he injured his foot at work. He's an electrician, and while stepping of a curb into some loose bark, he twisted his foot. He continued to work, although there was continual pain and swelling of his ankle. He told his employer about it at the time of injury. On August 28, he requested his employer to file a Workers Comp claim so that he could seek medical attention. His boss told him he only had 24 hours from time of injury to file a claim, but reluctantly contacted his WC carrier. They sent my husband to a walk-in clinic, where they took an x-ray but could not determine if there was a fracture. They put my husband in a splint.

    On September 4, my husband returned to the walk-in clinic for an appointment to see how his ankle was doing. There was still pain and swelling, so they contacted the insurance carrier and set up an appointment for an MRI.

    On September 5, his employer came to the house and took his work van, which he has been driving 20 years.

    On September 8, my husband had the MRI and on September 15 when he went to his scheduled appointment at the walk-in clinic, they referred him to an orthopedic doctor.

    On September 20 he went to the orthopedic doctor who said the MRI showed there was a fracture in his ankle and they put his foot in a boot. He also had a CT scan on September to see if there was any healing taking place. There was so they weaned him gradually off the boot, and on November 15, the doctor determined that he could return to work, since it would be a short week that week (Thursday and Friday), and a short week the following week (3 days - Thanksgiving week), and that would allow him to ease back into the work routine.

    After every appointment he advised his employer where he was at in the healing process. Sometimes his employer would return his calls, sometimes not.

    When he called his employer on November 15 to tell him he was released for work, he told my husband that he would have to talk to the insurance carrier, that he wasn't coming back until he was at 100% recovery, to call him back on Monday, November 20. Meanwhile, his WC benefits stopped on November 15.

    When my husband called on November 20, his employer told him he had some things to get off his chest, and that there were going to be some changes made, to come by his office on Friday, November 24. When my husband went to that meeting his employer had taken all his tools out of his work van and they were in a big pile in the floor in his garage. He told my husband that a contractor had made a complaint about a job he had worked at in APRIL, that he just walked around and his helper did all the work. Also, a customer had complained in August that he left early and they were under a deadline. The employer was aware that he had left early due to having medical problems. Also, my husband has to get along with another employee who disrespects my husband by not following his directions (this employee was been there 18 months). Also, he has a new employee leasing company and it would take a few days to get him into their system. He could keep the same rate of pay, but he would not longer have a company van to drive, he would have to drive our only vehicle to all the jobsites. His employer knows we only have one vehicle, which I use to get back and forth to work, and that this will put a hardship on us. He has to agree to all these changes before he will be allowed to come back to work.

    On Saturday, November 25, we went to the employers and got his tools, some of which are missing and some are destroyed.

    On Sunday, November 26, he called his employer and told him he was ready to come back to work. He was again told it would take a few days to get him set up on payroll and then he would have to see if he had anything to do, to call him on Wednesday.

    Well, it's Wednesday, and now he has a meeting at 4 p.m. today to get set up on payroll. Still no word on when he can actually return to work.

    He has not had any income since November 15, when he was released to return to work. He has worked for this employer for 20 years, and in all those years he has always driven the company van and never had a problem with any employee (except the current one). As far as he knows, he's never had any complaints about his work. All this stress is making him physically ill.

    We feel like he is being singled out and punished for filing a Workers Comp claim. Does he have any legal recourse?


  • #2
    It is illegal to retaliate against an employee for filing a w/c claim. Some of what you wrote wouldn't be retaliation. Taking company equipment (work truck) from someone on an extended leave is not retaliation. Also a company may not have an employee back with restrictions if it can't accommodate the restrictions.

    Your husband can consult a lawyer about filing a claim. Of course once he does file a claim any hope of returning to work is probably out the window.


    • #3
      Thank you for your reply.

      He didn't expect to keep the work van while he was off on workers comp, but he should have gotten it back when he was cleared to return to work, which was November 15, with no restrictions. His doctor just wanted him to ease into it if he could. Being an electrician, it will be difficult for him to take all his tools to work everyday in our vehicle. Still a moot point, since he's not been allowed to come back to work yet by his employer.

      His employer is dragging his feet, hoping my husband will get disgusted and quit. My husband showed him some of his tools that were destroyed when they removed them from the van and his employer told him not to be "petty."

      Would he be eligible for unemployment, since he's been released to work, but his boss hasn't given him any work? We're just trying to survive here, not make any money off the guy. He's shown his loyalty, that's for sure.


      • #4
        This is one case where I would definitely see an attorney. WC laws are different by state but it does seem very fishy and retaliatory based on what you have said.

        Ask the lawyer whether ADA and reasonable accommodation might also be in play for the not allowing to return until 100% fit. I've read new articles lately about 100% fit for duty going against some ADA protections, but can't say for sure that it is good in this case. Going to depend on details that you aren't going to want to post on the internet.

        But definitely your husband should NOT quit. File for unemployment? I would if he has been released to work and there is no work available.


        • #5
          I evidently didn't make clear that my husband was at 100% when he was released to go back to work on November 15. No further compensation from Workers Comp. But the employer is dragging his feet putting him back to work.

          It's been over 2 weeks since he was released at 100%, and first the employer said he had to agree to the new changes before he could come back to work, which my husband did.

          Then on November 26th he said it would take a couple of days to get him on the new payroll with the employee leasing company. We thought the other employees had already signed up with the new payroll company while my husband was off, but evidently that was not the case, because they had a meeting yesterday to get everyone signed up. So, the other employees have been working and getting paid on the old payroll system.


          • #6
            I agree that this case is way more complicated than we can fully answer through a message board, and you should consult a worker's compensation attorney.

            I would go ahead and file the unemployment though. If he is released to full duty and ready and willing to work and the employer is not giving you hours, that's unemployment.

            Another thought on the now he must use your own vehicle-if they aren't offering reimbursement for mileage, you can deduct travel BETWEEN JOBS from your taxes to recoup some of that cost. (His drive to his first work site and his drive home are not compensable, but travel in between sites during the work day is). But he needs to keep a log of the miles driven, with dates and destinations. Also, that expense cannot take him below minimum wage.


            • #7
              How many full time employees does this business have? If it has 50 employees within 75 miles, he would be covered under Family Medical Leave (applicable even if it is w/c).


              • #8
                Originally posted by HRinMA View Post
                How many full time employees does this business have?
                Four employees, so FMLA doesn't apply.


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