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Reporting Missouri Workers’ Compensation Abuses by Employers

Dec. 4, 2008

I have decided to approach the subject of abuses by employers towards their employees in Workers’ Compensation cases. I have seen a number of practices which I consider abusive and our firm is dedicated to preserving the worker’s right to pursue his Workers’ Compensation remedies. My goal is to obtain as much feedback as possible in order to size up the problems which exist in the workplace. I would ask for a lot of comments and I would suggest using initials after the comments in order to protect your identity.

One abusive practice which I have observed is that many employers do not offer to send an injured employee to doctor following an accident. In some cases, they seem to be hoping that the injured employee will simply go away.

A second practice is for employers to provide bonuses for “an injury-free workplace”. The idea is that an employee with a legitimate claim will be intimidated from exercising his rights because his co-workers will be financially punished. This practice is certainly contrary to the intent of the Workers’ Compensation law which mandates that significant injuries be reported to the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Division. The same employers will claim that they have a procedure in place for workers to report injuries even though they have created a hostile and intimidating work environment. Sometimes an employee will wait to report the injury and the employer will then say that the employee did not follow work procedures which require that the injury be reported. In some cases, they will provide a reprimand or other disciplinary action based on the employee’s failure to report an injury immediately, even though they have a system in place which discourages reporting injuries.

Thirdly, I have seen an abusive practice in which an employer will “loan the employee” to another facility. In most cases, the employer is receiving a discount on their premium because they have agreed to pick up a certain amount of the lost time benefits. In one such case, an employee from Warren County was told that he needed to report to Forest Park because they had a light-duty job at one of the facilities. The employee had a severely injured foot and was told that “transportation was not their problem”.

Fourth, some employers have developed hypocritical drug-testing procedures in order to intimidate their employees. While I do not condone use of marijuana, or any illegal substances, it is the hypocritical manner in which drug testing is administered that bothers me. In many cases, the employer could care less if he has an employee who smokes marijuana and may even suspect that a number of employees would fail a drug test. The employer in these instances will tell the employee that he can make a claim, but they will have to fire him if his drug test shows that he has been smoking marijuana. In many cases, it is necessary for public safety purposes that drug testing be administered. However, the employer’s phony concern occurs only after an employee has sustained a significant injury. The policy is not put in place to insure that the work place is safe, but instead it is put in place in order to intimidate employees from exercising their rights. For example, if a park worker is a passenger in a vehicle and that vehicle is in an accident, then what is the employer’s purpose for testing an injured worker who was simply a passenger? If the test were administered to the driver in order to determine whether drugs or alcohol may have been a factor, then it would be understandable.

Fifth, I have observed a practice in which employers have required employees who are out of work to be available to answer their phone at any time during the course of the day. The faulty reasoning is that, if the employee is going to be out of work, then he should be recuperating from his injuries and should not be engaging in any activities whatsoever outside of his home. An injured employee may have a bad knee and may be recovering from knee surgery, for example, but this doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be able to go out to lunch with a friend in order to break up his boredom.

At this time, I am asking injured employees who are the victims of abusive employer practices to provide me with comments on my website. I would like to gather as much information as possible about various abusive practices. If you are a victim of one of the above-mentioned practices, then I would like to hear from you. If you are aware of other abusive practices, then please inform me. I look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible and will make sure to protect your anonymity. Submitted by Jeff Swaney FREE CONSULTATION (314) 310-8373