Talking about bullying, harassment and intimidation, about two -three years ago, Lisa, a severely injured worker, was bullied and intimidated to such an extent- by her longstanding employer- that she was even forced to purchase her own laptop for work when her previously privately purchased laptop crashed at work and was deemed irreparable.
Employer abuses injured worker – a real story
Lisa, a severely injured worker, had been forced by her Xchanging case manager [and by her employer] to continue work with a terrible dominant shoulder and arm injury, even though specialist medical certificates clearly stated that she was NOT allowed to continue work unless the medically requested ergonomic support was put in place. Needless to say that the requested ergonomics were never put in place, and Lisa was bullied and intimidated to continue full time work in the same duties which caused severe exacerbation of her injury. In fact, Lisa had to undergo yearly (or twice a year) major surgical reconstructions to her shoulder/arm and still was never offered the required ergonomic level of support in the workplace. Lisa was so much intimidated by her case manager (and her employer) that she truly felt she had no option but to continue work in debilitating pain and with a mangled arm. In fact, she was often working with a visibly dislocated shoulder and in tears.
Without going into to much details, Lisa wishes to share one example of such sheer bullying and intimidation.
Because of Lisa’s severe right shoulder/arm injury, she was unable to use a normal desktop computer at work (for her work) as she required to use dictation software (which required a huge amount of computer memory and processing capability) and needed to be able to position the computer at waist level as she was unable (and not allowed) to use her dominant arm/hand away from waist level (the elbow had to remain in contact with her waist at all times).
Her employer had relocated Lisa into a real (we kid you not) broom closet, which was barely 3m x 2 m and without ventilation. They had done so to “allow” Lisa the ability to use dictation (requires a single quiet office).
For some obscure reason, Lisa was never offered or provided with a wireless laptop, as medically requested and had no option but to bring in her private laptop in order to do her work.
Lisa was so intimidated by her workcover case manager (who told her repeatedly that she would be cut off workcover if she did not stay at work), and by her employer that she felt she was obliged to purchase a new laptop privately (and the accessories incl. voice recognition software) as to continue full time work….
Eventually Lisa spoke out and told a newly appointed and lovely return to work coordinator (who lasted 4 months!) that she could not understand why she had to buy her own work tools and that she believed she was being abused and discriminated against for no other reason but for being severely disabled.
The new return to work coordinator took it upon her to write a letter to executive management (incl. OH&S Director and HR) and insist that Lisa be refunded for the new laptop she purchased.
Here is the letter:
In the end, Lisa was eventually reimbursed for her laptop, sleeve and software. However, she never ever received the medically requested ergonomic support and was forced to continue work in agony until her shoulder/arm broke to such an extent that it was deemed irreparable. Then her employer simply sacked her… like a commodity.
As John blogged, injured workers are most often bullied into silence. It even happened to Lisa (aka workcovervictim)!
Looking back, Lisa regrets that she has allowed her case manager and employer to intimidate and bully her into silence and that she felt so scared that she continued to work full time in-spite of medical certificates forbidding her to do so.
Lisa has now permanently lost all function in her dominant arm and has no prospects of ever regaining some sort of “normal” life. She is permanently, severely disabled because she was too scared to speak out. Don’t let this ever ever happen to you, she says. Your health is your priority, no matter what.
Speak out, stand up