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Is your employer failing to accommodate your work injury?

Getting hurt at work can cause a host of issues. In addition to needing to file a report and a claim for workers' compensation coverage, you could find yourself unable to work for some time. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may need reasonable accommodations from your employer to continue working and earning a living wage. Under federal law, employers must make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disabilities of those who are otherwise qualified to fulfill a position. Whether you are dealing with a short-term disability while you recover or something permanent, you should get helped.

Your employer should take steps to reduce your pain or potential for worse injury while working. There are hundreds of ways that injuries and disabilities could require accommodation. Issues with your back, neck or shoulders could require special chairs or other support equipment. Those with repetitive stress injuries may need to take frequent breaks and engage in special stretches or exercises to reduce the risk of worsening the injury. Ramps or other accessibility features may need to be added if an employee has a disability that affects his or her mobility or ability to safely access basic facilities, like rest rooms.

Accommodations help you continue to work

You may feel uncomfortable asking for what you could think of as special treatment, but your employer will also benefit by accommodating you. It costs employers a substantial amount of money to recruit and train a new employee to handle your responsibilities. Working with you to accommodate your disability or injury helps reduce that overhead expense. If your employer is too short-sighted to realize that working with you would benefit the company ledger, you may need to take additional steps. You may need to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC is tasked with addressing discrimination in the workplace, and that includes discrimination against injured or disabled workers. If your employer does not handle your request for accommodations reasonably, you may need to ask for the Disability Program Manager (DPM). This individual is responsible for working with disabled workers and the EEOC to ensure proper handling of accommodation requests.

When your employer does the right thing and helps you stay at work, everyone benefits. The company gets to continue profiting from your experience and dedicated work. You, as the disabled worker, get to continue making a livable wage despite having sustained a work injury. Because you can return to work with accommodations, your disability won't require as much coverage by workers' compensation insurance. If your employer refuses to accommodate you, you may need to take steps to have your legal rights enforced.

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