My workers compensation claim was made in the State of: PA
I work for a drilling company in PA, just started in May of this year and commute from NC. I work 2 weeks in PA, then am home for 2 weeks. All was going well until August, when I slipped on oil on the rig and hurt my back. I told my supervisor and he just had me sit around doing paperwork and stuff until the end of my hitch the first week of September. By that time I felt much better and I was compensated for those 2 weeks of work.
I went back towards the end of September, on the night shift, and the 2nd night I was lifting a heavy cable when I heard a pop in my back and was in immediate pain. I told 2 other crew members I couldn't keep going, found my supervisor and asked him if I could go to the hospital or a doctor. He said yeah, I could go in the morning (this was around 10 PM), and had me finish my shift until 6:30 AM doing little things like picking up trash.
I (incorrectly) assumed that the safety officer would come and bring me to the doctor the next day, so when I didn't hear anything all morning, I went back to my rig manager's office and asked if the safety officer was coming. My supervisor said he hadn't contacted him other than to tell him they needed someone to relieve me (but apparently didn't say why...?) and that I could call him. I did, he asked me about the injury, asked if I reported it. I said yes, I had told my supervisor, he said he needed to contact his supervisor, who called me a few minutes later. I explained the injury again, that yes, I reported it right away to my supervisor and was then told to stand by.
A few hours later I was called into my supervisor's office with him and the safety officer, with the safety officer's supervisor on speaker phone. The safety officer's supervisor told me (over the phone) that because I didn't "report it correctly" but not asking Keith for a list of doctors, they were not liable and I was being put on unpaid leave, effective immediately, and had to leave, but they couldn't take me. Since my entire crew was now back at work, there was no one to take me off the rig, so I stayed one more night. Since I live in NC, I flew to PA every 2 weeks and took a cab to the rig. When I left my supervisor's office, the safety officer gave me a Physician's Certification form for my doctor to fill out and told me to send it to him once I saw my doctor.
The next morning a crew member took me to the closest VA facility (I'm a veteran and receive my medical care through the VA), but it was a Saturday and was closed. So he dropped me off in front of a hotel and I contacted my step-brother who lives in Pittsburgh to drive the hour down to me and bring me back to his place until my rental car was ready the next morning. Sunday morning I got my rental car and drove 7 hours home to NC, stopping at my normal VA hospital's ER, which is 20 miles from my house. The ER gave me 2 shots in my back and some pain meds, and scheduled an appointment with my primary care doctor for Tuesday. went Tuesday, she scheduled me for x-rays/MRI the following day, which showed I had a slight bulging disc. My doctor signed the certification form I was given from the safety officer stating I could not return to work and would be re-evaluated October 10th.
October 10th I went back to the doctor and she wouldn't clear me since there was still some pain (but getting better), and wanted me out another 4 weeks before re-evaluating. At that point, I decided to contact an attorney about filing for workers compensation. Again, since I'm a veteran, I'm seen at the VA and thus have NO medical bills. I only wanted help with lost wages.
On October 11th I emailed my company's HR department to ask if I could still sign up for insurance (dental/vision for my family) benefits when enrollment opened on November 1st since I was currently on unpaid leave and wouldn't be back until at least mid-November. She replied that yes, I could still sign up.
On October 12th I contacted an attorney in PA to get workers comp started. On October 20th I mailed my attorney all the paperwork he had requested.
On October 23rd I received a call from a new rig manager, who had replaced the one I had reported my injury to. He said HR didn't know if I was coming back so he was calling to see if I was. I told him yes, I was out on injury, and was hoping to be cleared November 9th when I went back to my doctor.
On October 30th I received a call from the Human Resources Advisor who I had spoken to about signing up for benefits. She was calling to say that since I was out of work for longer than 24 days, I was automatically separated from the company and once I was cleared by my doctor, I could reapply. I asked her why the online employee portal still showed I had an active assignment in PA and she said the separation was still processing. If the 24 days thing was true, I should have been separated on October 15th. Nevertheless, I told my attorney who said, "That's odd," and left it at that.
November 9th I was cleared by my doctor, so I contacted the HR Advisor to see what I needed to do. She told me I needed to reapply to the open position (same position in the same location it still showed I was active) and that I would be contacted to come in for an interview and going through training. She did NOT mention I'd need to start back at the beginning in her phone call on October 30th, and that's when nothing made sense. I live 7 hours away and started in May of this year. I'd been out of work for less than 2 months. Why would I have to drive 7 hours there for a one day interview and then wait (again) for a start date when the same position it showed I was active in also had a job opening?
The online application wasn't working, and she told me they were changing systems and to email my resume and try the next day (Veterans Day). It didn't work until Monday morning, November 13th, and I submitted my application at 7:30AM.
I tried calling the HR Advisor 4 times that day to see what was going on, and she didn't pick up or return my calls. The next day, I tried her again 4 times, to no success. So I emailed the VP of HR, who is in Houston, TX, with 4 questions:
1) Where is a copy of the policy that states 24 days? The employment policies they sent us didn't specify anything of the sort
2) Why did I have to keep sending physician certification forms to the safety officer?
3) Why did the employee portal still show I was active? According to the policy I was told about over the phone, I should have been separated October 15th.
4) Am I wasting my time waiting?
The next day, Wednesday, November 15th, I received a one line email from the HR Advisor (in PA, not the VP) that said "Saw your application came through. Thanks."
So I replied with the same 4 questions and copied the VP of HR, the safety officer, and the safety officer's supervisor. No response.
Then I got a call from my other rig manager (not the one I reported the injury to), who said he had gotten a call from the interviewer (who was not a recipient of the email), and the interviewer told my rig manager that I had "gone about this the wrong way" by including the people I did on the email.
This entire time, the online employee portal showed me as having an active assignment and having an active application.
Yesterday (November 20th), I sent an email to the 4 of them again, requesting AGAIN a copy of the policy that stated separation after 24 days or SOMETHING showing I've been terminated/separated, or a return-to-work date. I even included a screenshot of the online employee portal that shows both my active assignment and active application. No response.
Yesterday afternoon, I filed a complaint with the company's hotline. I named the VP of HR, the HR Advisor, the rig manager I reported my injury to, the safety officer, the safety officer's supervisor, and the interviewer. It's "under investigation."
Last night my online employee portal showed the application had been removed, but my active assignment remained. They also had reposted the position on November 15th (same position I am in, same location it says my active assignment is for).
This morning, my access to the online employee portal has been removed.
I know this was long, so you deserve a medal if you read the whole thing. I've never had a workers comp case before, so any thought or experiences would be greatly appreciated.
I really just wanted to go back to work and recoup some lost wages for the 6 weeks I was out.