by Bernard D. Nomberg, Partner, The Nomberg Law Firm
The 2016 Olympics have been full of interesting and hot topics, from Ryan Lochte’s gas station “incident” to the rampant Zika virus, but one thing that has been puzzling us all is “Why are there lifeguards at Rio’s Olympic pools?” Olympic swimmers are obviously the best in the world, so they know a thing or two about how to swim. The answer is Brazilian law requires lifeguards at all pools a certain size. The Olympic pools in Rio are definitely big enough to require lifeguards. What happens when those lifeguards suffer an on the job injury and are told by their employer to return to work, but their doctor says not so fast? Alabama hosts the 2021 World Games. This scenario could happen right here in Alabama.
Employees who receive workers’ compensation benefits are often given medical treatment by an authorized treating physician. This doctor may prescribe medicine, place limitations and restrictions on work, and even restrict work altogether. Employers may not always see eye to eye with the authorized doctor, however. Occasionally, an employer may order their employee back to work when the authorized doctor recommends restricted work. When this happens, what should the employee do?
In the instance where the lifeguard’s employer orders them back to work when the doctor recommends otherwise, the doctor’s orders overrule the employer. After treatment for a work-related injury, the doctor will eventually complete a return to work form which clears the employee for work. In addition, the doctor may put in place limitations on the work that can be performed by the injured employee. An employer can either find work for the employee within the physician-ordered restrictions or if work is not available the employee will remain off work and receive temporary total disability benefits. If an employer is ignoring the recommendation of the authorized treating physician, the employer may be in violation of state and federal laws.
Not a week goes by when we do not address this very situation with our clients. We are experienced in addressing these return to work issues. Any employee who is facing a similar situation should immediately consult a workers’ compensation attorney. The Nomberg Law Firm is here to help and provide assistance to those employees with workers’ compensation claims or who may have questions about potential violations.
Bernard D. Nomberg has practiced law in Alabama for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating He has been selected a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine as well as a Top Rated Attorney by B-Metro Magazine.