Job Offer to an Injured Worker

Date: November 13, 2014
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Ed tripped and fell while working. He suffered a torn meniscus in his knee. Surgery was performed and Ed collected workers compensation benefits while recovering. Before his injury, he worked as a laborer. His job involved very strenuous physical activity. Ed’s doctor felt that Ed could go back to work in a modified capacity. Ed’s employer had Ed evaluated by a doctor who also felt Ed could work, but with certain limitations. Ed’s employer sent Ed a letter offering sedentary work in the office. The job indicated that Ed was requested to sort papers, make copies, and inventory supplies. The letter also stated that Ed would not be required to perform duties beyond the restrictions set forth by his surgeon. Ed never got along with the office manager. And Ed HATED making copies.

Question: Could Ed refuse the employer’s job offer and continue to collect workers compensation benefits?

Answer: Ed’s failure to attempt to perform the offered sedentary job will likely be construed as “bad faith” on his behalf. If he fails to return to work, Ed’s employer will file a Suspension/Modification Petition to either stop or reduce Ed’s compensation checks.

Once the employer secures medical evidence of a change in condition, they have the option of locating work that falls within an injured employee’s restrictions. If a physician approves the modified position, the employer will make the job offer. At that point, the burden shifts to the employee (Ed) to show that the offered position is either physically or vocationally unsuitable. Absent such proof, the employee will likely be found to have acted in bad faith and benefits may be suspended or modified.  The fact that Ed didn’t like copying is not relevant.

If you’ve suffered a work injury and have questions about your claim, contact me at tcummings@dlplaw.com or call (570) 347-1011 for a free consultation.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.