North Carolina Appellate Court Considers Case Where Employer Offered Unsuitable Temporary Employment to Injured Worker

If you are hurt on the job, you may suffer a temporary injury that allows you to still perform some tasks. In this situation, the employer may be required to offer you a position that fits your disability. Determining the tasks that you can safely perform, however, can be difficult. In some instances, the employer may not offer an appropriate job and may argue that your refusal to take the job is a refusal that warrants revoking your benefits. As dedicated Charlotte work injury lawyers we are ready to help you fight for the treatment that you deserve.

In a recent case, the employee allegedly hurt himself at work when he slipped and fell. He sought medical treatment, which his employer paid for through its insurance carrier. He underwent additional treatment with no improvement, eventually requiring surgery. Several months later, the worker was designated as having reached maximum medical improvement with certain limitations including permanent work restrictions on what he could lift. During the following weeks, the plaintiff continued to complain of pain.

The worker eventually suggested that his truck driver position was beyond the scope of his work limitations, so the employer provided him with a position as part of the loading crew and assured him that it would not conflict with the lifting restrictions. The description, however, said that the worker must be required to lift 50 pounds on occasion, use his or her hands and wrists, and grasp objects repetitively. The worker attempted to perform these tasks, but experienced pain quickly.

The employee missed work for two weeks pursuant to a physician’s instruction. The employer then modified the position to a “sorter” position, which involved lifting no more than 20-pounds. Soon thereafter, one of the worker’s physicians removed him from work indefinitely due to his pain.

Throughout this time, the employer had stopped paying workers’ compensation benefits and advised the worker that he could receive Family Medical Leave Act pay. The worker had sought reinstatement of his benefits. The presiding judge concluded that the worker did not unjustifiably or constructively refuse suitable employment, that the employer had not provided a job that was within the physical limitations that the worker experienced and that the worker was a credible witness about his pain and limitations. The judge also concluded that the employer did not provide suitable employment and failed to show that another employer would hire the worker to do a similar job at a comparable wage.

The employer appealed and the reviewing court ultimately concluded that the worker was entitled to ongoing workers’ compensation benefits as well as medical expenses reimbursement. The defendant appealed again, and the appellate court affirmed the decision, thereby upholding the award of benefits to the worker.

If you were hurt at work, you deserve compassionate and experienced Charlotte work injury lawyers processing your workers’ compensation claim. This can be one of the most confusing situations in your career and it can have serious consequences for your health. Maurer Law provides a free consultation to help you learn about your potential legal rights, how your employer must treat you during this period, and whether you are required to go back to work or to accept an alternative position. To set up your appointment call us at 844-817-8058 or contact us online.