As we got to talking, Mike told me that he worked at a local retail store and after his injury his doctor had placed him on Light Duty work. His employer could not accommodate his restricted duty status of no use of his left hand so he was off of work for the time being. As Mike continued to talk he told me about a recent situation where he helped out a neighbor; we will call the neighbor John.
John’s family was in need of a new water heater and John did not know how to install it so he asked Mike for assistance. Mike resisted for several days because of his restricted duty status but eventually John wore him down and Mike gave in and helped him with his home improvement project.
Later in the week, John went into the retail store where Mike worked and mentioned to someone that Mike had helped him install a new water heater in his home. Word got around and eventually the supervisors at the store were made award of the situation. Mike was fired and now he not only faces losing his benefits but he could be forced to pay back anything he has already collected, not to mention the possibility of criminal charges!
When I spoke with Mike he insisted that he did not use his left hand and therefore did not violate his doctor’s restrictions; while I would like to believe him, I am afraid it will be very hard to convince the Commission that this is the case.
The moral of the story – ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DOCTOR’S ORDERS, EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT AT WORK. Don’t even put yourself in a position where you actions could be called into question because in the end, it is injured workers’ and their families who suffer the consequences.