What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California
I have worked for my employer for almost 8 years in customer service. Over a month ago, I asked for a wrist guard and mousepad due to pain in my wrists from typing. The pain became more severe but my employer advised I would need a doctor's note in order to obtain these accommodations. Due to the companies policy for calling off work, I was unable to go to a doctor.
I have not brought up any other requests to my supervisor since this request and was planning on scheduling an appointment soon, but my boss came over to my work station the other day and signed me out of work. She told me I had to go directly to their workers compensation doctor immediately almost at the end of my shift.
The doctor briefly inquired my symptoms and I showed him the large bumps I now have on my wrists, and the pain and numbness I experience in my fingers and wrists. After my exam, the doctor told me he did not think I had carpal tunnel syndrome, but its "close cousin" of enthesopathy. I woud need to wear wrist supports in and out of work, go to physical therapy, and greatly reduce my computer use. He advised that the only way to reduce my severe inflammation is to remove the cause - my keyboard. He stated he did not want me at my computer more than 4 hours a day, and for every hour I work I should take a 15 minute break. He asked me to return in one week to see if there was any improvement.
When I returned to work, my supervisor told me "the good news" that a study conducted showed we actually only typed on our keyboard for 4 hours during an 8 hour shift so I could work a full day- no problem. Also, the 15 minute breaks were optional and would be unpaid. After she gave me this information, I was visibly upset and explained that this is not the accommodation my doctor explained and I did not want to further damage my tendons/nervous. I am 27 years old, and am dependent upon computer work for my livelihood. She apologized and told me she thought it was "very weird" that the study only showed 4 hours as well, but it is what it is. I explained I would call the doctor for clarification, and she then advised me we could go speak to human resources together.
Long story short, after going back and forth with HR and the workers compensation examiner, they received clarification that I was indeed supposed to only work 4 hours in one day regardless of how much time I type because of how my hands are positioned. Then I magically received a wrist guard for my keyboard and mouse. My supervisor explained that my one 15 minute break per 4 hours of work was fine, as my case examiner had explained. If I wanted the additional 15 minutes per 1 hour of work I could take it at my discretion but it would be unpaid.
The company I work for is a major Fortune 15 company, if this matters. I am seeking advise because I feel like my employer is trying brush over this situation and take as little responsibility as possible. I don't want to get stuck dealing with permanent damage resulting from the irresponsibility and neglect of my employer. They make us watch ergonomic videos, but refuse to accommodate us with something as little as a mousepad or wrist guard. Does anyone have any tips to make sure I am protecting myself? I should be finding out in a few days after my checkup if any of these accommodations have helped, but so far I am still experiencing pain and the large bumps on my wrists have not gone away.