Playing Chicken with Workplace Injury

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Are there any limits to what an employer will do to avoid paying their fair share to employees who are injured on the job? A recent article on propublica.org makes it clear there is no limit, detailing a series of steps taken by Tyson Foods to limit liability in case of workman’s compensation claims, steps that included influencing a politician to cut the pay of the man in charge of making sure workers are protected.

Many aspects of workman’s comp law are so engrained at the state and national level that any attempts to change them would be futile. After all, it is difficult for corporations to get voters to pass laws that hurt the blue collar worker in favor of the large multinational. But where laws don’t already clearly state what an employer can and cannot do, companies have pushed action at the Executive level to increase profits and limit workers ability to get the benefits they are entitled to.

The story details just a few of the ways Tyson Foods has attempted to skirt the existing framework, including:

  • Seeking control over the medical decisions of those injured on the job, steering them to company doctors who are less likely to recommend necessary but expensive procedures
  • Establishing an almost insurmountable burden of proof to qualify for benefit
  • Shifting requirements to the worker to prove they were in fact “on the job,” even though they were at company facilities and on the clock

It is clear from this story and others like it that large companies cannot be trusted to do what is right for their workers. Instead, they will seek to maximize their profits, even while people suffer. Workers cannot hope to wield a level of influence equal to large corporations, and it is workers’ rights that often suffer.

If you or someone you love has been injured on the job, you have likely sought workman’s compensation, only to discover how little compensation there is. If you are struggling to get by, finding an experienced attorney to help you force the company to provide the benefits you are entitled to might be your only answer.