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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    12

    Unhappy Harassment? Retaliation?

    My workers compensation claim was made in the State of: OR


    I have received such great advice from the folks in this forum, unfortunately I need to come back and ask for more. So, thanks in advance and please bear with me, this is kind of long.

    After a six month WC claim, I returned to work on December 1st. My employer was supportive of my time off, paid me and had my position waiting when I returned. I had an injury to my knee brought on by pushing an overloaded cart with mismatched, cracked wheels. I am a finish carpenter for a very large organization.

    My supervisor, on the other hand, has been a nightmare.

    I have a full release. Both my doctor and my physical therapist have stated that although I can do my job, I am still weak and it will take a period of time for me to get to full strength. This point was brought up at a "return to work" meeting with my supervisor, a HR representative, my WC case worker and my physical therapist. At this meeting my supervisor stated, in front of everyone, that HE would be my new phyiscal therapist and would make sure that I pushed my work cart everywhere I go in the hospital. My actual PT spoke up and said that he had to look at my injury much like you would a knee or ankle injury to a long distance runner. That it would take time for me to heal fully and that I would know my limitations and could manage what I could and could not do. He further stated that from time to time there might be something I would need assistance with. My supervisor heard that and agreed with it, stating "we are just glad to have her back".

    Since I have been back, I have only asked for assistance once and have been doing my job at the same level of skill and quality that I did before my injury. I still have flare-ups and I still feel some level of discomfort daily, but both my doctor and PT said to expect that.

    On Tuesday, my supervisor asked me to move a heavy, very large, awkward box on a hand truck up an incline into another building. I knew that doing so was beyond my ability so I asked for assistance. He said no. I told him I felt unsafe performing that task. He told me that I had to do it myself. Two coworkers offered to help and he told them no, that I had to do it myself. I told him again that I felt unsafe and was worried about re-injury. It was at this point he became belligerent and took me into his office. He inquired about the exercises I was doing and tried to show me exercises he thought I should be doing and exercises his doctor friend has shown him how to do. It was a very surreal moment, as he came across very threatening. After that episode, he took me out to the shop and demanded that I push the hand truck. I felt very intimidated, so I pushed it around the whop. I told him I felt that I could not get it up the incline, it was an unbalanced load and I felt usafe. He told me to push it around the shop then instructed me to push it to the other building and he would follow me. This was in front of my coworkers. I felt humiliated, but I did it anyway. When I got to the incline, I set it down. He just grabbed it and took it up without saying a word.

    My job performance expectations state that if I am asked to do something I feel unsafe or unable to do alone, I am to ask for assistance. Which is what I did. I told him at least four times I felt unsafe. He ignored me. And I never wanted to go here, but he has never treated a male employee like that, and they have had all sorts of injuries. He treated me like a child, at the very least.

    On top of this, I learn that he has been telling folks that I work with that my injury was NOT work related, that I injured it playing golf. Even though I was out on a WC claim, and the claim was originally filed in November of 07, where there was two feet of snow and no chance I was playing golf. I am a 33 year old woman in excellent health. I have never had an injury before and everyone involved knows it was a work related injury, even him. Does he have a right to tell people the inury was not work related or even talk about it for that matter?

    I am at a loss as to what to do. I feel bullied, harassed and retaliated against. Do I have a leg to stand on? I truly am an outstanding employee with an outstanding work history. I have that reputation and am proud of it, but will even that protect me? I would rather not even think of going the legal route and hope that HR will take care of it.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    SarahM

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,898

    Default Re: Harassment? Retaliation?

    Sarah,

    Your supervisor is an idiot. Start documenting everything that has happened, dates witnesses etc. Do not talk about your injury to your co-workers. Your supervisor should not be discussing his thoughts about how you were injured to other co-workers.

    It is up to you on how to proceed. I always recommend that you first discuss these issues with your supervisor, and try to work things out...however he seems like such an idiot,I do not know how much good that would be. You can also go above him, however that can result in a hostel work invironment. You can also consult with an attorney about this issue. Again, I would ask your supervisor for a meeting, and discuss your concearns first. There are laws that protect you from this, and you do have rights.

    Whatever you do... do not do anything that will injure you more. You can get another job...but you only have one body.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,898

    Default Re: Harassment? Retaliation?

    Sorry, I forget to mention...yes you can go to the HR department with this...and it will be a much easier route than an attorney. Just know this, the HR department is there to protect the company.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Calif
    Posts
    18,011

    Default Re: Harassment? Retaliation?

    As the ER has accepted the RTW release of your treating physican, and the PT you were treating with, with or with out restrictions it is your responsibility to ensure you remain within those restrictions...(I am not asserting you have done anything wrong here...) Your supervisor is not your 'treating' anything..doctor, therapist or in any other capacity.

    So...as kelly has suggested, go to the HR dept/supervisor, and discuss your present concerns, and the environment your supervisor is subjecting you to.

    What you are experiencing IS 'harrassment', and is illegal in most work places, whether there is a work injury involved or otherwise.

    While not all work injuries are considered 'disabilities' under the EEOC/ADA rules...there are steps you can take if this type of activities continue.
    Here is information on EEOC/ADA and the rules surrounding how an EE is to be treated by there ER, and/or supervisors. The dept mgr./supervisor is the immediate representative of the company you are employeed by, and responsible for the actions you are experiencing.
    http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/workcomp.html
    This is a site 'Job Accomodation Network, lots of information on the work place environment you are entitled to...

    Here is information on RTW issues in OR...http://www.wcd.oregon.gov/injured_wk...n_to_work.html
    http://www.jan.wvu.edu/indiv/index.htm#on

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Harassment? Retaliation?

    Thank you both for your input.

    All I really want out of all of this is to be able to come to work, do my job well and go home. Every now and then I might need a hand. In my mind, that is what teamwork is.

    Anyway, I wrote this incident up and sent it to both HR and my supervisors direct boss. I also copied my PT as I think he knew I was walking into a potential retaliatory environment.

    As for writing everything down, I have documented this injury every single day since I reported it to my supervisor. I have a binder that is approaching two inches think. I have copies of all my PT reports, doctor reports, etc and have documented each day of the process. The only person who has not been at all helpful during this injury has been my supervisor. I originally reported my concerns to HR when I went out on WC. They seemed appalled at his behavior (which included instructing me not to use a lighter cart at the beginning of this injury, even though it would have most likely prevented me from being out for six months... he told me pushing the larger cart was a condition of my employment and not an option. The word accomodation is not in his vocabulary) but it seems like they did nothing. But I am not privy to what goes on behind the scenes.

    So, I have reported it. I have NEVER been reprimanded at work, never been as much as late to work. I have only received praise and high marks for what I do. That's not bragging, it's just the facts. I work hard and being a woman in a mans world, I have to work harder to earn respect. I don't have a problem with that. But I can't live with my supervisor treating me like this. It's wrong.

    Thanks again... I will keep you posted as to what comes of all this.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    12

    Angry Re: Harassment? Retaliation?

    I had an interesting interaction today.

    One of my coworkers left me a voice message early today that he was discussing the incident with my supervisor with another coworker and they felt it was in my best interest to just drop it. He said that it would come back to haunt me. I found this message to be very odd and out of character.

    This afternoon, that same coworker took me aside and tried to talk to me about the incident. I didn't say anything, but he went on about how concerned he was when they hired a woman in the department (I have been there 3.5 years and am the only woman in the department) and that women play games with flirting and trying to play the men against each other, and he was worried I would do that, but he is relieved that I haven't.

    What the hell? What do I do with THESE interactions? This is turning into a very weird, uncomfortable work environment. It was NEVER like this prior to my injury.

    This is the SAME coworker that on my second day back, took me into an office area to show me some videos of some sort of Subaru race car. He said "the boss is gone today, we can screw off now and then" and then started the videos, turned up the sound and then left me in there alone. I felt VERY uncomfortable and walked out, only to run into his buddy, who works in another department, coming up and looking for my boss (who's office is next to the room I was left in). My inner voice told me that maybe I was being set up, but then I told myself I was just being paranoid.

    But now I am not so sure.

    What would you do? This is very odd and out of character for this coworker, who I got along with, but never really trusted.

    I am confused...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Calif
    Posts
    18,011

    Default Re: Harassment? Retaliation?

    DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT DOCUMENT... need I say this again...?

    Hopefully not only the injury circumstances, but the actions by your supervisor as well...

    As your claim has not settled yet, you should immediately file an ammended application for adjudication with the WCAB, siting 'harrassment' for filing a WC claim, under section 132a of the labor code...

    DO NOT be hesitant to file this... if things resolve, it can be dropped, if not, then you may be entitled to lost wages, reinstatement of your job, and up to 10K in penalties. THe penalties come directly from the ER's pocket....and no doubt this supervisor will not be the end of this.

    If you can, keep a copy of the messgae you received today...that is invaluable when the time come to prove up your claim.

    PLEASE don't let this go...hopefully this is not being done with the sanction of your HR/ER dept.... and If you wish, you can discuss the 132a issue with the HR manager before hand....

    Here is the section..
    132a. It is the declared policy of this state that there should not
    be discrimination against workers who are injured in the course and
    scope of their employment.
    (1) Any employer who discharges, or threatens to discharge, or in
    any manner discriminates against any employee because he or she has
    filed or made known his or her intention to file a claim for
    compensation with his or her employer or an application for
    adjudication, or because the employee has received a rating, award,
    or settlement, is guilty of a misdemeanor and the employee's
    compensation shall be increased by one-half, but in no event more
    than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), together with costs and expenses
    not in excess of two hundred fifty dollars ($250). Any such
    employee shall also be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement
    for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer.

    (2) Any insurer that advises, directs, or threatens an insured
    under penalty of cancellation or a raise in premium or for any other
    reason, to discharge an employee because he or she has filed or made
    known his or her intention to file a claim for compensation with his
    or her employer or an application for adjudication, or because the
    employee has received a rating, award, or settlement, is guilty of a
    misdemeanor and subject to the increased compensation and costs
    provided in paragraph (1).
    (3) Any employer who discharges, or threatens to discharge, or in
    any manner discriminates against any employee because the employee
    testified or made known his or her intentions to testify in another
    employee's case before the appeals board, is guilty of a misdemeanor,
    and the employee shall be entitled to reinstatement and
    reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of
    the employer.
    (4) Any insurer that advises, directs, or threatens an insured
    employer under penalty of cancellation or a raise in premium or for
    any other reason, to discharge or in any manner discriminate against
    an employee because the employee testified or made known his or her
    intention to testify in another employee's case before the appeals
    board, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
    Proceedings for increased compensation as provided in paragraph
    (1), or for reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work
    benefits, are to be instituted by filing an appropriate petition with
    the appeals board, but these proceedings may not be commenced more
    than one year from the discriminatory act or date of termination of
    the employee. The appeals board is vested with full power,
    authority, and jurisdiction to try and determine finally all matters
    specified in this section subject only to judicial review, except
    that the appeals board shall have no jurisdiction to try and
    determine a misdemeanor charge. The appeals board may refer and any
    worker may complain of suspected violations of the criminal
    misdemeanor provisions of this section to the Division of Labor
    Standards Enforcement, or directly to the office of the public
    prosecutor.http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/di...file=110-139.6
    What you might do is print this out, and hand it to the HR manager with a written detail of your experience, and complaint.
    I can nearly guarantee this will put a stop to your ''harrassment''...

    You are working for a BASTARD... you know it, your fellow EE's know it, and HE knows it. Don't let this go.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Harassment? Retaliation?

    Thank you, BVIA.

    I have been documenting everything and surely saved the voice mail.

    It was a coworker that I dealt with today, but he is known to be very close with the manager of the department, who is my supervisors boss. I feel like they want to nip this in the bud by either getting rid of me (they have NO reason) or scaring me.

    Can you help me with some acronyms, please? EE? ER? WCAB?

    It should be noted that I work for a self-insured VERY large hospital system on the west coast. This isn't a "mom and pop" organization. I am am sure (hope?) HR has no idea about any of this... well, they do now or will when they return from vacation on Monday.

    THANK YOU so much for pointing out 123a. Even though I have had a work release, I have not had my claim closed. I have a follow-up with my doctor on Thursday. I am still weak and have some discomfort, but not enough to go back on WC. If my supervisor would just let me manage my injury, I feel I will recover fully.

    This is exhausting. I promise to not let this go. Like I said, I just want to do my job free of any harassment.

    Thanks again!

    Sarah

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Harassment? Retaliation?

    Another thing, the document you reference the 132a section is from California it seems.

    I am interested in information for Washington (I know my original post said OR, I WAS trying to hide my identity, but well... I am sure I have given too much away already... but it is all truthful, and something I would tell anyone, so I am not worried... the original disclaimer was my original motivator, though )

    So, I am looking for something that is concrete that is either federal law, or Washington state.

    Thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,898

    Default Re: Harassment? Retaliation?

    Oh Sarah,

    Stay strong...try to ignore all of the BS that is going on with your co-workers (I know, easier said than done).Your situation is not looking good...however how YOU handle it will make all of the difference.

    Tomorrow when you go to work...try to ignore the ridiculous tactics of your co-workers...be firm, polite, and above them AND their tactics. Do not get pulled into their drama...tell them you do not want to hear it, and you need to concentrate on your health and doing your job...(everything else is BS). Do your job, but nothing that could injure you. If that idiot tells you to do something that may injure you, and is outside of your restrictions, tell him you cannot do it because your doctor said it could cause re-injury.

    As BvIA said...document everything, with the date. Also, do not discuss ANYTHING about this or your injury with ANY co-workers...even if they are good friends.

    Remember...your supervisor does not have total control over you...you can say no to him if it will injure you. Also remember that your health is the most important thing, not this job.

    I have re-named your supervisor idiot, and that is what I will be calling him from today forward on this board.

    EE is employee (yourself)

    ER is employer

    IC is insurance company

    IW is injured worker

    WCAB is the workers compensation board (I do not know the name for your state

    Idiot is my new nickname for your supervisor

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