We hear this question from injured workers all the time, and the correct answer is “probably not.” Under the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Act, employers have a duty to return an injured employee to work if suitable employment is available within the employee’s physical and mental limitations. Employers often either ignore this duty completely, or they provide “suitable employment” to an injured worker temporarily, and then suddenly (and without good reason) take the job away. This may very well violate State Law, and it could also lead to the employer and its insurance company owing an injured worker a substantial amount of additional workers’ compensation benefits in a claim.
Getting the insurance company to admit it’s wrong and pay this additional cash is, unfortunately, a big problem for injured folks. The insurance carrier almost never voluntarily pays any additional money in this scenario, and many injured Arkansans who suspect they’ve been swindled out of a job end up simply convincing themselves that since Arkansas is an “at will” employment state, the employer can basically give or take away any job as it pleases.
The bad news for employers and the insurance folks is that Hart Law knows how important having the ability to earn a living is to working Arkansans, and we have been fighting the insurance companies over taking jobs away from our injured clients for years. In this case http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ar-court-of-appeals/1416671.html, for example, we went all the way to the Arkansas Court of Appeals to obtain additional benefits for a client who was provided with a light-duty position that was later withdrawn. His job was yanked for no good reason, and we made them pay.
If you have a claim and something about your job situation doesn’t seem quite right, it may not be. Call or e-mail us and we’d be glad to visit with you about your claim and your options, anytime.
Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law