e Question: I have an employee who incurred a back strain performing his assigned duties at work – he is a delivery driver. I had him immediately go to the doctor and they put him on modified duty. He has been sitting at home for 2 weeks now because we cannot accommodate the modifications. He is going to have an MRI and a host of other tests and the doctor’s reports give no sign of when he will be released to normal duty. My question is – are we obligated to keep his position open? We are straining to cover his position, but do not want to go through the expense of hiring and training one if we are obligated to give him his job back when he is released.
Answer: State workers’ compensation laws prohibit terminating an employee who has sustained a work-related injury and is not permanently disabled. It is advisable that this employer monitor this employee's status very closely and even if a job has to be created, get that employee back to doing some type of work. Back injuries can be especially tricky, so it may also make sense to get the insurer involved to make sure the treatment program is being followed and the employee is following it.
This response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, nor is this column a substitute for formal legal assistance. For help with particular legal needs, members are invited to consult with ACCA’s LegalTools Counsel, Brooke Duncan III of Adams and Reese LLP. Mr. Duncan can be reached at 504-585-0220 or by email at email@example.com.