My Employer Won’t Let Me Return to Work Until I’m 100% Recovered. What Next?
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My Employer Won’t Let Me Return to Work Until I’m 100% Recovered. What Next?

If you suffered a workplace injury and are now ready to work, learning that your employer will not return you to your previous job until you have fully recovered could be a big obstacle. Two scenarios could be happening for you: (1) you cannot perform your previous job with your restrictions, and your employer has no other job you can perform, or (2) your employer has suitable employment for you but does not want you to continue working there.

No Available Job Within Your Restrictions

Depending on your restrictions, which could include limitations on your ability to perform key tasks for your job, your employer may not have a job for you. For example, if your old job primarily involved lifting and carrying objects weighing 20 pounds or more, your lifting restriction of 5 pounds of less could be an obstacle. You should, however, ask if there are any other jobs without lifting and carrying that you could perform.

Also, talk to your doctor about whether he or she thinks you will improve and eventually be “100%” ready to work. If your restriction will only last 3 months while you recover, your employer may have more flexibility. If your restriction is permanent, you may not be able to return to your old employer. In that case, seek a rehabilitation evaluation so that you can receive vocational rehabilitation services through workers’ compensation. You could find a new job or retrain for a new industry.

Employer Refuses to Offer Continued Employment

Unfortunately, some employers refuse to offer continued employment. They tell employees that they cannot return to work until they are 100% recovered. They say there is no work for an employee with restrictions, even though there are jobs available.

Workers’ compensation and employment laws in Minnesota protect you from these employers. Workers’ compensation laws say that the employer needs to bring you back to work in your same position or a position within your restrictions, if possible. If a larger employer refuses to bring you back to work without reasonable cause, you can file a civil lawsuit against the employer. The employer may have to pay one year’s wages or $15,000 to you for its refusal.

Before you decide to file a lawsuit, talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer about negotiating with the employer and insurance company. You may be able to secure a job for you at the old employer or may have a chance to obtain a larger settlement due to the employer’s unreasonable refusal to return you to work.

Need help returning to work after a workplace injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.