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Working against doctors orders

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What is the name of your state? California

An employee has seen our comp doctor for a shoulder injury. The doctor wants to do surgery. The employee wants a second opinion and so we have arranged for a second doctor to see him at the end of this month. The problem is that this has been going on for several months and he is unable to do his regular job. The first doctor has put him on modified work consisting of no use of his right arm and a 10 pound weight limit on his left arm. We have given him modified work however he has continued to use his right arm. He has missed several days of work because of the "pain" he is in and is unable to take his prescription pain medication while at work. Do to the company being short handed he has occasionally had to do his "regular" duties which require the use of his right arm.

He was written up this week on a "safety violation" for using his right arm while doing a job that did not require the use of his right arm. What recourse do we have to ensure that he is not going to further injure himself and protect us in the process.


Senior Member
You can put him back on leave but then your WC carrier will have to start paying him TTD benefits again, which is always expensive. You can't ensure that he won't use his arm, anymore than you can make anyone do or not do anything. If he continues to violate his work restrictions, you may continue to discipline him and then terminate him at the point called for in your disciplinary process.

A major word of caution though - you state "Do to the company being short handed he has occasionally had to do his "regular" duties which require the use of his right arm." Sounds like the company is as guilty of violating his restrictions as he is, which makes the discipline you've given him quite questionable and perhaps hypocritical. If I were you, I'd (a) make absolutely certain he is NEVER required to do work that does not comply with his restrictions, and (b) consult with a WC attorney before taking any further action.

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