If I’m returning to work under workers comp, can my employer put me in a position of which I have absolutely no knowledge or understanding?

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If I’m returning to work under workers comp, can my employer put me in a position of which I have absolutely no knowledge or understanding?

I worked as cook in hospital and got hurt at work. I had a few surgeries and returned to work with papers stating I would be receptionist. Now I’m being told to be a medical assistance biller. I have no knowledge, training or understanding. This sounds like talking a foreign language to me. Can they do this?

Asked on August 17, 2011 Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, the company can absolutely do this. Regardless of whether you were on worker's compensation, empoyers have, in the absence of an employment contract to the contrary, essentially complete discretion about reassigning staff, changing their jobs or duties, etc. They are allowed to put staff in positions for which they have no prior training or experience, and can reassign them from what they were told they'd do.

The exceptions:

You say there were "papers" stating you would be a receptionist--it's possible, if those papers were from the company, that they would constitute an enforceable agreement; you might wish to have an attorney review them and the situation with you.

Also, the company can't discriminate or retaliage against you for being on worker's compensation, so if they are lowering your salary, or if they are "setting you up to fail" and then fire you for not being able to do the job, that might give you a cause of action.

On the other hand, if you get training as you go along, you may end up learning a new career; so the issue is likely what happens next--is this an opportunity or a retaliation?


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