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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Default Employer Won't Let Worker Return on Light Duty

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: South Carolina. I'm currently employed by the state. I recently had to undergo surgery and was in the hospital for a week. I let my supervisor know in advance that I was having my procedure done, filled out my sick leave and also informed my supervisor that depending on how the procedure went that I might be in the hospital a few days. Upon being released from the hospital and still seeing the doctors for check-ups I was out on sick leave for an additional two weeks. During the time of my surgery, hospital stay, I kept in contact with my supervisor letting him know what was going on with my medical situation. I got out the hospital and was still out of work and my supervisor informed me that for the first week of being out from my job that I would need a doctor's letter saying that I was out for the week after getting out the hospital. My doctor faxed my employer the information stating that I was in fact out for that week after getting out the hospital and upon evaluation of my condition that it will be determined when I was able to return back to work and when I was able to, I was to be on light duty and no lifting of any kind over 10lbs. for six weeks. I called my employer to make sure they'd received the letter from my doctor that my doctor faxed to them and they said they received it. The middle of the following week, my supervisor called me again stating that I needed a another letter from my doctor stating that I was going to be out a another week. During this week, going back and forth to my doctor checking the progress of my wound healing, my doctor stated that if I felt comfortable going back to work, I could but I was to be on the restrictons that they had set for me (light duty, no lifting over 10 lbs. for 6 wks.) there was some issues about the second letter not being received and my supervisor informed me that if they did'nt received the letter, that I was going to receive sick leave without pay. I called my job and talked to the head secretary and was informed that they did need the second letter from my doctor by the end of the business day Friday or no later than Monday morning or the district office was going to imply "leave without pay". The head secretary also told me that I needed to faxed them the fist letter from my doctor about being out because apparently it got misplaced or lost and nobody seemed know what happen to it. My job also informed me that I could'nt return back on light duty because they did'nt had any light duty to for me to be on and if I returned I would have to be at 100% health. So that means I have to be out work another almost month before returning back to work. I have sick and annual leave time but there has been other employers who had been injured who had return back to work and were allowed to be on light duty. So why am I not allowed to have the same treatment. I want to return back to work. I've been employed about 5 years and I am really upset about the ill treatment that I'm getting and it's not fair to me. With that being said, my question is, am I being treated unfairly, discrimative and can I make legal actions against my employer?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    CT & IL

    Default Re: Employer Won't Let Worker Return on Light Duty

    Return to light duty / ie another job until you are back to being able to do normal duty is up to the employer.

    If you get paid is up to the law. This is not a WC issue (you note other WC employees but do not state yours is) so I don't think you have much to argue about in a legal sense.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Default Re: Employer Won't Let Worker Return on Light Duty

    If your job requires lifting, they're under no obligation to let you sit around and collect a paycheck for not doing your job. Yes you can be expected to burn through your leave before other options are made available to you. Sorry, I don't see anything discriminatory here.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Default Re: Employer Won't Let Worker Return on Light Duty

    Not based on what you've posted.

    There are no circumstances whatsoever in which an employer is required to provide light duty. At any given employer, there is only so much light duty to go around at any given time. It is by no means unusual, and quite legal, for an employer to reserve light duty for those employees who are injured at work. Even if that doesn't apply, the employer is not required to make up a light duty job for you; if they don't legitimately have an open job for which you are qualified within your restrictions, nothing in any law, in any state, requires that they make one up for you.

    The employer could quite legitimately say that other employees were given light duty because they happened to have some appropriate light duty at the time, and they don't happen to have any appropriate light duty available now. Unless you had some valid and supportable evidence that this was NOT true, and that the TRUE reason they were not providing you with work inside your restrictions was due to a characteristic protected by law, any attempt at legal action would fail.

    It does appear that there was some poor management in handling the situation, but that is not actionable or make their treatment of you illegally discriminatory.

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