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Injured worker? Contest unemployment if worker quits before giving you a chance to help

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Here’s some good news: As long as you are willing to accommodate an employee’s medical condition, you won’t face liability for unemployment compensation if she quits. And the employee has to tell you she needs that accommodation. If she just quits, she won’t be eligible.

Recent case: Michelle was working in a grocery store when she allegedly hurt her knee. She reported the injury to her boss at the end of her shift. The next day, she reported the injury to the safety committee and told her supervisor she could not work.

He told her to go to a doctor and get a note, which she did. The doctor recommended that Michelle take two weeks off and then return to light duty.

Instead of returning after two weeks, she quit. She was worried about incurring another co-pay charge and therefore didn’t get another medical excuse.

Then, Michelle applied for unemployment compensation, arguing she was unable to work through no fault of her own.

She initially got benefits, but those were overturned on appeal.

The court noted that employees who can’t work for medical reasons must ask their employers for help. If they don’t make the request, they can’t get benefits. (Bellinger v. Commissioner of Labor, No. 515009, Supreme Court of New York, Appel­­late Division, 2013)

Final note: For some reason, Michelle never applied for workers’ compensation for the injury, even though it was clearly a workplace injury.

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