Exacerbating Known Conditions: Does It Count Under Worker's Compensation?

Law Blog

What happens when you take on a job that manages to exacerbate a condition you already have? Does it fall under worker's compensation? Well, if you ask any workers compensation attorney, you may get different answers. There are some tricky legal issues with this situation, and you may be surprised by the answers.

Did You Disclose Your Condition to Your Employer?

If you disclosed your health condition to your employer and he/she still insisted you work in an area of the company/factory where your condition could worsen, then yes, it does fall under worker's compensation. Clearly, your boss already knew you had a health issue, but chose to expose you to something that would make it worse. An example of this is having chronic asthma, but your boss exposes you to dust and/or other asthma triggers.

On the other hand, if your boss did not know that you had this health condition, then the judge may be swayed to believe that you set up the employer as a means to sue for cash. It is a tricky gray area, especially if there were no witnesses when you supposedly disclosed the health problem. If you have a paper copy of a written, dated, and signed letter, then the judge may believe you.

Did You Ask for Breaks or Reduced Hours?

When your condition was made worse, did you ask for breaks to cope with it? Did you ask not to be placed on overtime? Did you ask for your hours to be reduced because your condition worsened? If you answered "yes" to any of these, and then your boss denied you, you could sue. Employers are required to make special accommodations under the law (Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA) when workers need to work less for medical and health reasons.

Were You Threatened with Termination?

An employer should never threaten you with termination if you cannot work the demanded extra hours or your health declines. That is illegal. Instead, your boss, and the company as a whole, should be looking for solutions to help you keep your job and maintain your health. If you are injured on the job after you have been threatened and after you have explained your reasons for reduced hours or time off to your employer, that is most definitely a workers compensation lawsuit. Keep records of the dates and times of those conversations for your lawyer.


7 June 2017