Maryland

A recent ruling by the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission reaffirms transitional employment with nonprofit agencies as a viable option for helping injured workers return to work quickly and safely.

Summary of Ruling

On May 29, 2014, the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission issued an order denying the claimant, an over the road (OTR) truck driver injured on the job, temporary total benefits for the period of time he refused to perform duties at two different nonprofit organizations as part of the employer’s return to work program. The Commission also ruled the employer-offered transitional employment at the nonprofit agency was appropriate for the worker’s physical restrictions. The commission stated, “the claimant is released to medium duty work per functional capacity evaluation and work within his restrictions was offered by the employer.”

Background

ReEmployAbility worked with the injured worker’s employer, S & H Express Inc., to locate a suitable nonprofit assignment utilizing its Transition2Work® program for the injured OTR truck driver while on sedentary, no driving work status. The Transition2Work program works with local nonprofit organizations across the US to place injured workers in transitional, modified duty positions while they heal from their injury. In this case, the injured worker misrepresented his assigned  duties and refused to report for the assignment. The employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier continued temporary benefits until the injured worker was released to medium duty in March 2014. At that time, the injured worker was again referred ReEmployAbility’s Transition2Work program for placement in a transitional duty assignment. This time, the injured worker was offered two different assignments — one with the Westminster Rescue Mission and another with the Salvation Army. When he misrepresented his capabilities, claiming he could not perform the assigned duties at both placements, the carrier suspended benefits and went to hearing.

Impact on Return-to-Work

We are pleased to add this ruling to the list of states wherein the Transition2Work program has been challenged and favorably viewed by the courts. Quick return to work is a “win-win” for all parties involved in an on-the-job injury and when an employer is unable to accommodate an injured worker in-house, the Transition2Work program is an important option.

The program not only helps make a positive impact on the lives of injured workers by providing safe and meaningful modified duty work, it creates new, energizing experiences for injured workers to work with nonprofits and make a difference in the local community.