Many workers who suffer a significant work injury are unable to return to their same job once they’ve recovered. They can collect wage loss benefits and receive free training to get the skills they need to thrive in another position, but how picky can they be about taking another position that is offered to them by the company? We explain how refusing a job offer can affect your injury benefits, and what you should do if you find yourself looking for a new job following a work injury.
Finding Suitable Employment
After a work injury, you will file a claim and be entitled to wage loss benefits and other compensation as a result of your injury and inability to work. Your employer has an interest in getting you back to work so then can decrease or eliminate the payments they are making to you on a regular basis, so if you cannot return to the same position, they may offer you a different position or role in the company.
This new position may come with different hours, a lower wage (which can still be offset with wage loss benefits if you accept the role), new duties or require different skills, which may be an adjustment for the worker. If you don’t like the new position, are you allowed to refuse the offer and wait for a different job while still collecting a larger amount of injury benefits?
Under Minnesota law, a worker may not refuse a reasonable and suitable job without risking forfeiting their benefits. Refusing to accept suitable work will likely result in the insurance company petitioning the court to terminate your wage loss benefits on the grounds that you are not interested in reasonable and suitable work. This holding was made clear in Dodgson v. City of Minneapolis Public Works. In that case, the worker, who lost a finger during a work accident, refused a new position that would have required him to walk a couple blocks and take a bus to and from work.
The court found that the employee unreasonably refused the company’s offer of gainful employment, and they granted the insurance company’s request to discontinue benefits. When determining if the offer was reasonable, the court examined many different factors, including the employee’s rehabilitation plan, his doctor’s medical evaluation and the duties of the proposed position. The court ruled that taking the new position would not dramatically alter a reasonable pattern of living, and thus their determination was made.
At the end of the day, determinations like the one in Dodgson are made on a case by case basis, but the criteria used will be whether or not you are refusing reasonable, gainful and suitable employment. These terms are subjective, which means it is in your best interest to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer who can make a strong case that you are within your rights to refuse an offer of employment that you find unreasonable.
So if you need help with your injury claim, or you want legal help fighting claims made by your company’s insurer, reach out to the experienced legal minds at Hey Workers today.