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?

UPDATED: Aug 17, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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?

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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