I badly fractured my leg in a skiing accident two years ago and was off work on disability pay from my job as a warehouse forklift driver. Now the insurance company is cutting off my benefits because they say I can work in other jobs such as a parking lot attendant or truck dispatcher. Can they do this?
Work disability insurance policies have clauses that define a "disability" differently as time passes, usually after two years. At that point, most policies state you must be unable to perform any job, not just your own job, in order to continue to receive benefits. The insurance company must keep paying benefits, unless you are medically capable of working in another job that would pay a comparable salary to what you earned before the injury.
My position was eliminated and I was given only the option of transferring to a role that pays the same, but it is outside in the warehouse where it's cold in the winter and hot, humid in the summer. Also, there are fumes from trucks unloading goods. I am a female over 55 years and cannot manage this environment. What does the law say about this?
If a physician declares the effects of the heat, cold and fumes will cause you health complications, then the employer has a legal duty to accommodate you by finding you a suitable alternativeor modifying your working conditions in a reasonable way. Your employer cannot change your job in any negative way without your agreement. This is referred to as a constructive dismissal, which is a legal principle that allows you to reject the change, leave the workplace in some cases, and sue for lost wages while you look for another job. The key to making this claim is to show the new position is harmful to you in a significant and objective way, such as harming your health.
Daniel A. Lublin is a partner at Whitten & Lublin, representing both employers and employees in workplace legal disputes.
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