Over the course of 35 years representing injured workers, I have heard some whoppers – Employers’ questionable tactics that make even my jaw drop. With all the insurance company generated blather about “employee fraud” incidences of employer fraudulent tactics abound. Workers beware of the following:
- Recorded statements taken by worker’s compensation carrier adjuster while employee is under medication or in the hospital still suffering from the injury. Questions such as “It’s true you had (low back pain, arm pain, fill in the blank pain, etc.) before your work injury, correct? You’ve had lots more pain from (your motor vehicle accident, sports injury, etc.) than you’re experiencing from your work injury, correct?
- Employer “channeling” a worker to its “Return to Work Clinic” (doctors on company payroll whose opinion is “like some athletic coaches, ‘rub some dirt on it and get back in the game’.”
- Telling employees to take sick leave rather than claim worker’s compensation.
- Telling employees to file medical bills under their group insurance, not worker’s comp.
- Nurse Case Manager who initially befriends the employee but later makes every attempt with the worker’s doctor to prematurely return the worker to the job before a healing occurs.
- Employer paying worker in cash with no payroll stub (or gives workers a Form 1099 rather than a W-2).
- Employers who cultivate a culture of non-reporting of injuries to tout “number of work days without an accident” (I’ve had employees report they have actually amputated part of a finger, wrapped it up in a handkerchief, put it in their pocket, and not reported the injury to get a cooler of beer as a premium for work days without an accident).
- Employers who on a First Report of Injury do not add in overtime hours to artificially diminish a worker’s Average Weekly Wage (in my experience this happens in a majority of cases).
I am growing weary of hearing about “employee fraud” at every social gathering, cocktail party and seminar I attend. Employees should be vigilant regarding these employer tactics and contact an experienced worker’s compensation attorney concerning their worker’s compensation rights.