I have an employee that is tasked with general maintenance, warehouse work and back up delivery driving. He came to work one day complaining of pain in his foot. Of course it was a day when we needed him to perform back up driving duties due to an unexpected illness. We sent him home as he was unable to perform his job. He missed the next few days, so we told him to bring a doctors note in order to return to work. He came back with a note that was very vague about the condition of his foot. He is now claiming that his foot was injured climbing a ladder at work. He has received aditional treatment on his foot and has evidently told his doctor the story about the ladder as the doctor now sights it in his correspondence to us. I still can't tell you what's wrong with his foot. The individual has been previously treated for gout. I suspect the foot problems are related to this rather than a work injury. He is still not up to full speed and we have no prognosis from the doctor when he will be ready to return to full duty. I would like to terminate the employee and re[place him with someone capable of doing the work. Please advise.
Dear Anonymously: I have concerns if you let the employee go that he may file a law suit against you claiming that you terminated him because he injured himself on the job. I would if it’s listed in your work rules issue a disciplinary warning for not reporting the injury as soon as it happened. If he hasn’t seen one of your doctors/your clinic I would have him do that. I would explain to the doctor the details that you’ve shared with us and ask that they provide you with their medical opinion after seeing the employee. I would approve only one visit to the clinic and maybe an x-ray of the foot. I would also have the employee complete an injury report form. Make sure the form your using asks the employee to list in detail how the accident happened, when (date/time), who he reported the injury to and when, and to list any witnesses. I would also contact your workers’ compensation carrier and complete any necessary paperwork for them and explain the situation in detail. The nice thing about having a carrier is they can decide whether or not they believe the claim is legitimate – they will most likely pay the initial visit to your clinic but if they feel the claim is not real, they will deny the claim and any further treatment will need to be paid by him. The unfortunate thing about the gout is if an employee has a medical condition which is acerbated by something they do at work (climb a ladder) then technically it can be a workers’ compensation case/claim. If your clinic places him on any sort of work restriction I would follow that and hopefully you’ll get him to full release very soon. If you do not have the paperwork I suggested in the response, feel free to give us a call and I can get it for you. Sincerely, Michelle HRI Advisor