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Take it seriously when doctor limits employee’s duties

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Here’s a case that illustrates the perils of playing fast and loose with physician certifications recommending light duty.

Quentin Parker, a warehouse worker for Ethan Allen Interiors, injured his foot and ankle on the job. His doctor laid out specific medical limitations on the kind of work Parker could do, and he stayed on the job for nearly two months.

But during that time, Ethan Allen kept asking him to do work beyond his medical restrictions. Each of those requests came from a co-worker, not a supervisor. Parker was sure the demands originated with his boss. He quit in disgust.

He found work with another employer two weeks later, but his foot got worse. The next year he needed surgery, which ultimately wasn’t effective in restoring him to full health. His doctor restricted him from doing any work. Parker wound up filing for temporary partial disability benefits.

Ethan Allen asked the state to deny Parker’s claim, for which it would be liable. The company said Parker had voluntarily left Ethan Allen and hadn’t sought gainful employment.

But the court pointed to the fact Parker found a job in two weeks. It also noted Ethan Allen’s constant requests for Parker to perform work he was medically restricted from performing. The Judge of Compensation Claims awarded the temporary partial disability.

Note: Employers ask for trouble when they ask workers to violate doctor’s orders. Train supervisors to honor medical restrictions. It will help the company in workers’ comp cases as well as ADA and FMLA situations.

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