Most Employers Do The Right Thing
Most employers ae supportive of their injured employees, but that is not always true. Here are a few things to look out for when dealing with a hostile employer, and what you can do about it
Refusal to Provide Claim Form, Dragging Out the Claim
Oregon law requires every employer to have workers’ compensation coverage for its employees. If an employee reports an on-the-job injury, the employer must submit the claim to its insurer within five days. Unfortunately, some employers do not do this.
We have seen employers convince an injured employee to put off filing the claim until “the end of the season” for example. Because employees are under time limits (90 days from an acute injury) to file their claim, this may sabotage the claim.
Some employees offer to pay medical expenses, which is permitted in limited situations. But again, as time goes by, or if what you thought was a minor injury becomes more significant, this can also endanger your claim.
If an employer is not providing a claim form, you can contact the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Ombudsman for assistance. This office advocates for injured workers and can help you navigate the claim filing process. If you want to dig in on your own, go to the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division’s “Employer Index” page. There, you can find coverage information for your employer.
Abuse of the Modified Work Release
Oregon Workers’ Compensation allows an employer to offer an injured employee a modified job while they are seeking treatment for the on-the-job injury. Overall, this is a good thing because it gets the worker back in the workplace, and some studies claim it accelerates the healing process. However, employers can also use this as a tool to intimidate and harass the injured worker.
Some employers abuse the process by creating menial jobs to demean their employee, or pit them against co-workers. Other times, the employer will not honor the physical limitations set out in the modified job description. When an employer abuses the modified job limitations, we encourage our clients to have the modified job description available to politely show the supervisor with an offer to do any work within the limitations. If that does not work, its a good idea to contact their adjuster, or get into see a physician to clarify or confirm what the injured worker can and cannot do.
Violation of Civil Rights
Oregon statute protects injured workers from discrimination because an employee invokes the workers’ compensation process. There are also protections for employees who testify at workers’ compensation hearings. Discrimination is broadly defined to include conduct that negatively affects any term of the employment. This could be hours scheduled, wage amounts, assigned tasks, or even job termination. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries enforces the protections Oregon statute provides to injured workers, and workers have the right to file a claim directly against the employer. When we see suspicious activity from an employer, we refer our client to an employment law attorney for guidance.
If you have issues with filing a workers’ compensation claim, contact us. We can answer your question, or at least provide you resources or referrals so you can know what you stand.