Behavior Upon Returning to Work After a Work-related Injury
Recovering workers should use extreme caution when returning to work after a workers’ compensation injury. Be sure not to give an employer any reason to terminate the worker's position.
It is possible that if a position is terminated, that the court will construe the conduct which led to the termination to have been a constructive refusal to return to work. In that case, the worker may not be able to resume collection of workers’ compensation benefits, even if the injury legitimately prevents the individual from returning to their full duties. One example is the case of a lady who returned to light duty work who was fired for alleged gross misconduct after she exposed her buttocks to two female co-employees.
Raleigh workers' comp lawyer Brent Adams penned a book exclusively for injured workers across North Carolina that identifies mistakes in work injury claims and offers a guide for returning to work. The book is available for free to all persons in our state who were hurt due to work-related causes. Here are a few guidelines for returning to work.
If the employer can show that an employee was legitimately terminated and that a non-disabled employee ordinarily would have been terminated under the same conditions, then the employer has created a rebuttable presumption that the employee’s misconduct constituted a constructive refusal to perform the work provided. Unless the worker can rebut that presumption, workers’ compensation benefits will not be payable. However, the employee can rebut that presumption by showing that the inability to find or hold other employment is due to a work-related disability.
Injured workers should not return to their job duties until a physician has signed off medical approval for such.
Keep in mind, an employer is not obligated to keep a workers' comp claimant's job available to them.