When it comes to workers’ compensation claims, companies must abide by state and federal law, but they are able to implement their own internal policies. Some companies have a policy which requires employees to report an incident immediately. The issue with immediate reporting is that a workplace injury may not be symptomatic at the time of the incident or accident.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor filed suit against U.S. Steel for allegedly retaliating against two employees after the individuals reported injuries they sustained on the job. U.S. Steel’s policy is that employees must report injuries immediately. The two employees both reported injuries when they became symptomatic, and then were suspended without pay for not reporting sooner.
The first incident occurred when a technician had a small splinter in his thumb, which he was able to remove himself without any complications. Days later, though, his thumb became infected and medical treatment was necessary. At that point, the technician reported the incident because of the required medical treatment, and his supervisor suspended him for five days without pay.
The second employee, a laborer located in a different plant, bumped his head on a beam. At the time, the employee was wearing a hard hat and did not feel any pain. After some time passed, the employee noticed an issue with his shoulder, possibly caused by his contact with the beam. The employee sought medical treatment, and reported the incident to his employer. This employee, as well, was suspended for a period of five days without pay.
Both employees filed complaints against U.S. Steel with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), claiming that their suspensions were in retaliation for reporting injuries. OSHA found that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of Section 11(c), the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking to enjoin U.S. Steel from retaliating against employees, for revision of the company’s internal policy, and to rescind the disciplinary action taken against the two injured workers.
Skillful workers’ compensation attorneys can guide employees on which claims to file and how to handle internal workplace policy. An attorney can help protect your rights and help preserve your coverage should further injury stemming from an accident become known later. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.