When you get hurt on the job, you want to believe your employer will do what is right. You want to believe that a proper investigation will be held, and that the results of the investigation will determine how to proceed. You want to believe you work for an honest company, and that no subterfuge would take place. But all too often, companies can’t be trusted to do what’s right.
As a recent Appeals Court decision makes clear, companies can’t be trusted to put aside their profit motives and make sure the right thing is done. Four long years have passed since a fatal accident at Caterpillar’s South Milwaukee plant. A crane operator was crushed and killed, and the union wanted a full investigation to be done. All the union asked for was access to the accident site, so they could make a determination as to what caused the terrible incident to occur.
Rather than comply with a reasonable request, Caterpillar:
- Refused access to the union investigator
- Offered company produced video-taped reenactments of the accident in lieu of access
- Required a confidentiality agreement to provide the union access to any internal documentation
Even when the union signed the confidentiality paperwork, the videos and documents were mostly useless. Even the judges of the 7th Circuit noted that there was no way to tell an accident had occurred by watching the reenactments, and it was impossible for anybody to determine what might have caused the accident with such a dearth of evidence. The court was forced to intervene and order Caterpillar to allow the union access to the accident site.
If you have been injured on the job, you might have noticed the company seemed to be in a rush to place blame for the accident. Rather than conduct a thorough investigation, many companies just want problems to go away. Please, if you have been the victim of such behavior on the part of a company, contact a qualified attorney to help you force the matter. Sometimes it takes a day in court to hold a company to account.