Questions over PUA or UI eligibility add to delays in unemployment benefits

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Even if Congress and the President agree on a bill that extends unemployment benefits, millions of workers who are eligible for unemployment benefits aren’t receiving benefits due to administrative logjams at state labor departments administering unemployment insurance programs.

I want to untangle one particularly ugly thread of the ghastly tapestry of the failure of our social insurance programs during the pandemic: how worker misclassification has complicated the paying of unemployment benefits.

Contractors and gig workers who lost their job during the pandemic can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Typically, independent contractors aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance (UI), but the CARES Act made these workers eligible for unemployment benefits through PUA. Gig economy companies like Uber pushed for separate benefits for their drivers who are classified as contractors rather than employees.

Tax reform legislation in 2017 encouraged workers to self-classify as contractors, so when it came down to applying for unemployment many self-defined contractors went the PUA route rather than applying for traditional unemployment insurance.

But, a state labor department may look at a self-defined contractor and decide the individual is an employee, which means that they should apply for traditional unemployment insurance instead. In practice this has meant workers have applied for PUA only to be told they need to apply for UI. Some workers who apply for UI are told they need to apply for PUA.

From a legal and academic point of view, I would agree that most workers classified as contractors are probably employees. But if you are waiting on benefits to pay for food and shelter, who cares where the money comes from PUA or traditional unemployment so long as you get the money. Forcing state labor departments, often staffed by overworked and/or undertrained claims examiners, to decide on how to classify workers just adds more delay to an already backlogged unemployment insurance claims process.

PUA was pushed by firms like Uber to provide some benefits for their workers who the company classifies as contractors. Five years ago,  a think tank aligned with the corporate wing of the Democratic Party held a symposium about how to provide some benefits for gig workers without making gig companies pay for full employee benefits. PUA would be the first mass effort to provide benefits to contractors.

Critics of this so-called “Third Way” approach were vindicated. But unfortunately the critics corporate Democrats being right means millions of people are suffering. Former National Labor Relations Board Member and AFL-CIO General Counsel Craig Becker pointed out in 2015, that the more classifications you have for workers the more litigation and uncertainty you have about legal obligations. That uncertainty is likely playing out within state labor departments weighing whether workers are eligible for PUA or UI.

That uncertainty leads to delay which means unemployed workers go without unemployment benefits – and families go without food and shelter in the winter during a pandemic.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Pandemic accelerates new risks for retail workers

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Foot traffic in bricks and mortar stores has plummeted this holiday season as shoppers stay out of stores while COVID-19 cases soar and economic pain lingers for many. But online shopping broke new records over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

While an increase in online shopping and decrease in in-person shopping may mean the end of dubious holiday traditions like “Black Friday Brawls”, retail work could continue to be more dangerous and risky for workers.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, injury rates in retailing surpassed manufacturing starting in 2018.  I’ve written before that the rise of online retailing and automation has decreased retail clerk jobs and increased the number of delivery and fulfillment or warehouse type workers. This trend would lead to increased injuries.

The increase in online shopping has also coincided with the “gig economy.” Whereas online shopping is driven by technology, the gig economy is enabled by technology and political decision to deny gig workers basic employment protections. I’ve picked on Amazon in the past, but even Target has gotten in on the misclassification gig. Target contracts its delivery workers through Shipt who classifies their workers as contractors ineligible for benefits. Contractors for Amazon and Target perform the same work that is done by employees at other companies.

The pandemic accelerated these trends in retail employment. But the acceleration of online shopping has revealed some new risks to workplace safety. The Hy-Vee store by our Lincoln office has moved online pick up to the south edge of the parking lot to accommodate the increase in online order pick-ups. Online pick-ups could previously be made right by the store.

So in order for workers to deliver groceries for pickup at the new store, employees need to move items across parking lot traffic, then uphill into a temporary storage space for pick and then come back across the parking lot into the store. I think arrangement is going to create problems in cold and wet weather as well as creating hazards during darkness.

I am not singling out Hy-Vee, I assume other bricks and mortar stores are making similar adjustments. All institutions have been forced to improvise during the pandemic. But if improvisation comes at the expense of workplace safety, at the very least workers should have basic employment protections. Ideally workers should have unions to have a voice in workplace safety during the pandemic and beyond.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Your rights when COVID vaccinations go wrong

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Good news ! (For once)

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know there is a COVID-19 vaccine. But what happens if something goes wrong with the vaccination and or if something goes wrong with the vaccination if you are required to be vaccinated for your job?

Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP)

Negative reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine can be compensated through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) The CICP is administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration. You can find out about the claims process here.

The CICP is similar to, but separate from, the National Injury Vaccine Injury Compensation (VICP) fund, which pays individuals on a no-fault basis for adverse reactions to some vaccines.

Workers compensation and COVID-19 vaccinations.

So, would an injury from a work-mandated COVID-19 vaccination be covered by workers’ compensation? I believe so. Workers compensation covers injury arising out of an in the course and scope of employment.  If you get hurt doing something ordered by your employer, you are likely covered by workers’ compensation unless you are substantially deviating from your job duties.

So a worker who has an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or another type of vaccine would have two claims – a workers compensation claim and a claim against a vaccine fund. Typically if a third-party is responsible for a work injury, workers compensation can claim some right of repayment called subrogation.

However, I am not sure if workers compensation subrogation would apply to compensation paid out under a no-fault vaccination program. Todd Bennett and I discussed this around the coffee machine on Friday morning. Nebraska’s subrogation statutes seem to envision a situation where an employee files a traditional negligence case for a work injury. My guess is that workers compensation would likely claim a subrogation right against settlements from a vaccine fund, but that an injured worker – or their lawyers — should be able to push back against any repayment claims by a workers’ compensation insurer.

Botched injection injuries

I’ve never had a case involving a vaccine reaction. But I have had workers’ compensation cases involving botched injection that lead to muscle and joint injuries. Again those are workers’ compensation cases. I would expect a fair number of those types of injuries as public health authorities rush to vaccinate millions as quickly as possible. There may also be a negligence or malpractice case against the provider of the vaccinations.

The handling of the pandemic doesn’t engender much confidence in how corporate America and government officials will handle the mass vaccinations required to end the pandemic. People need to know their rights and exercise those rights if and when vaccinations go wrong.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Sacrificing essential workers in the name of “bipartisanship”

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Last week daily COVID-19 related deaths reached a daily rate equal to the September 11th terror attacks. Weekly unemployment claims remained higher than during the 2008-2010 recession. But never fear, a group of bi-partisan group of federal legislators came up with a solution:

Protecting corporations from lawsuits related to COVID-19.

The liability protections were part of a “super-skinny” relief package put together by the so-called “Problem Solvers Caucus” and supported by Democratic congressional leaders.

University of Wyoming Law Professor Michael Duff wrote a much better version of the blog post that was rattling around in my head on treadmill on Thursday morning. I’ve written plenty about how workers’ compensation is an inadequate remedy for COVID-19, but that it blocks efforts for workers to seek justice outside of workers’ compensation.

Duff’s points out tht more workers, particularly in the gig economy, are denied even basic employment protects workers compensation. Liability protections would take away the right of contractors or gig workers to sue for catching COVID due to corporate negligence. Duff called the proposal “treacherous” and “not civilizational.” In the final paragraph he more or less states the liability provision creates a constitutional crisis.

I agree with Professor Duff.

The constitutional crisis is that Congress wants to strip rights from essential workers. Sure, the legislation only calls for a liability shield for six months, but how easy would it before Congress to extend the shield once it’s implemented?

Maybe this sounds like a paranoid slippery-slope argument, but one of the raps on outgoing President Trump was that he violated norms with his behavior and conduct which undermined the Constitutional order. I think that that’s true. Norms were supposed to be respected with the election of Joe Biden and the return of “the adults in the room.” A bi-partisan group of self-proclaimed problem solvers defines what it means to be “the adults in the room.” Turns out the “adults in the room” don’t really respect norms either. The norm in this case is the basic ability of a person to have some access to the court system to address harm

The poor behavior of the “adults in the room” is dispiriting to say the least. Advertisers and politicians have extolled the “essential worker” throughout the pandemic. In some states, New Jersey as an example, that talk has turned into helpful action for essential workers. But hearing politicians who vote for COVID-19 liability shields celebrate essential workers rings hollow.

The fact that tort reform is part of a take or leave it deal, where the consequences of leaving it will be millions of people slipping into destitution is disturbing.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Higher out of pocket costs in disputed comp. claims other COVID workers comp(lications)

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I had an awful realization summarizing medical bills in preparation for a workers’ compensation trial; injured workers who aren’t exposed to COVID-19 are in for a nasty surprise due to the resurgent pandemic: having to pay deductible in denied or disputes workers’ compensation.

Due to the COVID-19, many hospitals in Nebraska are delaying non-urgent surgeries because of lack of space in hospitals. Often times orthopedic injuries which are the most common workers’ compensation injuries are deemed to be non-urgent.

Of course, if workers’ compensation cases are accepted a worker doesn’t have to worry about medical expenses. However, many workers compensation case are disputed. In disputed case, many workers fortunate enough to still have health insurance pay for surgeries with private health insurance.

But private insurance requires you to burn through a deductible in order to have insurance start paying benefits. Your typical white-collar weekend warrior or Crossfit mom typically waits until the year to have surgeries as they don’t have to pay the deductible because it was spent down through out the year

But because of delays in non-urgent surgeries, more injured workers paying for surgeries in disputed workers compensation cases with private insurance will need to pay deductibles for procedures delayed into 2021.

So what options do workers have in this situation?

The first option is to get a lawyer and file a workers’ compensation lawsuit if you haven’t done so already. This may seem self-serving, but under Nebraska law, if a medical bill is related to a workers’ compensation claim a provider must delay collections efforts until the case resolves. (Of course, if you need a surgery and] your employer or their workers compensation insurer is denying medical care, you should get a lawyer even if you don’t have to pay a deductible)

Other problems with COVID delays

Higher out of pocket medical costs aren’t the only hitch for injured workers due to surgical delays to due to COVID-19. Workers who need to miss work due to a medical condition only have 12 weeks of job protected leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. (FMLA) Delays in surgery due to COVID may prolong treatment and return to work beyond 12 weeks.

Earlier in the pandemic, I thought the silver lining of medical delays could mean more temporary total disability (TTD) for injured workers waiting for medical treatment. I still think that could be true, but I can also see employers being more aggressive in return to work or voluntold community service light duty work to get around paying lost income benefits. Voluntold light duty assignments are full of pitfalls for injured workers

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Don’t bet on workplace safety

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Decent people reacted with shock and disgust to news of allegations that managers at a Tyson meatpacking plant in Waterloo, Iowa were making bets about the number of workers who would catch COVID-19.

The allegations were included in a wrongful death claim filed by the family of a worker who allegedly died from COVID exposure at the plant. Iowa allows workers to get around the limited compensation available under workers’ compensation if the employee can prove their injury was caused by the gross negligence of another employee.

If true, managers betting on employee COVID-19 exposure would likely be evidence of gross negligence. So besides another example of man’s inhumanity to man, what does the COVID-19 betting pool tell us about workers’ compensation and workplace safety?

Good alternatives to the exclusive remedy of workers’ compensation

Iowa is fairly unique in allowing for negligence suits for work injuries. In Nebraska, and most other states, workers compensation is the only way that employees can be compensated for a work injury.  Lawyers and judges use the term the terms “exclusive remedy rule” or just “exclusive remedy” to describe workers’ compensation laws  The so-called grand bargain of workers’ compensation is that workers don’t need to prove negligence by their employer to be compensated for a work injury. In exchange they receive limited benefits.

But workers’ compensation has proven largely inadequate to COVID-19 due to difficulties in linking COVID-19 exposure to the workplace. While some cases are being prosecuted by employees they are hard cases to win that are only feasible in cases of death or serious injury.  Benefits in death cases also rely on proving a formal marriage relationship and or evidence of supporting dependents. Not all injured workers fall into that category.

Worse, the exclusive remedy rule has largely ruled out legal workarounds to the exclusive remedy rule.

However, Iowa’s allowance of tort cases, with higher potential payouts in cases of work injuries and deaths from COVID seems like the best way for seriously injured workers and their families to hold employers accountable. And bluntly, it’s not that great of an option.

Some readers may ask, isn’t OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, supposed to regulate workplace safety? If workplaces were safe there wouldn’t be a need for lawsuits. But OSHA sidelined itself early in pandemic

How OSHA sidelined itself in the pandemic

In April, OSHA announced it would not enforce record keeping requirements for COVID-19 for employers such as packinghouses. I believe that this sent a signal that OSHA wouldn’t take the pandemic seriously. OSHA later reversed the policy and even issued a few citations. But OSHA’s slowness to respond to COVID-19 cost lives both on the job and in the communities around COVID-19 hotspot workplaces.

OSHA continues to refuse to specific rules about workplace safety and COVID. Sure, once the Biden administration finally takes over and gets going, OSHA might issue some standards. But even in a Democratic administration, the Department of Agriculture, who also regulates meatpacking plant may seek to weaken workplace safety measures implemented by the Department of Labor. For example, while the Department of Labor did some innovative enforcement of meat processing plants in the Obama administration, the Department of Agriculture allowed some packers to speed up processing lines. Faster lines correlate with more injuries.

Why local media is matters in covering workplace safety, part 2

The story about the COVID pool at Tyson was broke by a local journalism outlet in Iowa. This is the second straight week, I’m writing about a workers’ compensation issue first reported on by local reporters. Local reporters are essential in covering workers’ compensation because workers’ compensation is a state law. Also, many unsafe workplaces exist well outside journalist-rich cities like New York City and Washington DC. It’s important to have good reporters in places like Iowa and Nebraska to tell the stories of workers there.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Why local media matters to workers’ compensation and workplace safety

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A story in the Seattle Times about injury rates at Amazon fulfillment centers shows how a state workers’ compensation agency and enterprising local reporters can focus attention on workers compensation.

Seattle Times reporter Benjamin Romano reported that injury rates at Amazon fulfillment centers had increased nearly four-fold over 4 years from 4 per 100 to 15 per 100 employees. Romano’s reporting was based on a public report from the State of Washington’s Labor and Industry, L & I, department which administers and regulates workers’ compensation in Washington state. L& I sets workers compensation rates in Washington State.  Per the Seattle Times, Amazon warehouses will pay a higher rate for workers’ compensation than meatpacking plants in that state.

Workers’ compensation laws are state laws. Washington state is fairly unique in having a state-run workers’ compensation system. Nebraska allows employers to obtain private workers’ compensation coverage.

So, as Amazon expands in Nebraska, what leverage will the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court have over Amazon?

First of all, for now, First Reports of Injury, are public records. Any interested party can look at those reports. But of course those reports don’t always correlate with an injury and they are based on what an employer reports.

Major employers with high injury rates also like to self-insure. The Nebraska Workers Compensation Court must approve applications to self-insure on an annual basis. Amazon being denied the ability to self-insure or losing the ability to self-insure would be a newsworthy event. However many high-injury employers avoid the scrutiny of self-insurance by insuring with high deductible plans.

But if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it really make a sound? I bring up this old question to discuss the gradual disappearance of local journalism. If news happens, but there are no reporters to cover it does news exist?.  Lee Enterprises has made Nebraska a one newspaper state. Lee has nearly halved the number of reporters at Omaha World-Herald in the last two years. Any long time readers of the Lincoln Journal-Star or Omaha World-Herald know from first-hand experience how the news content in those papers has thinned out over the years.

Why does the decline of local media effect workplace safety.  In the Obama administration, OSHA began a policy known as “regulation by shaming” or publicizing fines against companies who violated workplace safety rules. A study by an economist at Duke University found one press release by OSHA had the same effect as 210 inspections. But if there isn’t a strong local media to report on and amplify these stories, then the regulation by shaming strategy loses effectiveness.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Unhappy holidays for voluntold light duty injured workers

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Christmas music started playing last week. Another familiar holiday sound started last week — holiday bell ringing by The Salvation Army. But many bell ringers may be injured workers who are being forced to volunteer at a “light duty” assignment.

Nothing under Nebraska law prohibits companies from assigning their injured workers to work for non-profits. In fact, a small industry has cropped up that matches injured workers with non-profits. Of course, that industry and apologists for workers’ compensation insurance industry call this practice a win-win for everyone. I think the benefits of forced volunteer or voluntold work don’t hold up under closer examination. But workers faced with a voluntold assignment face at least two problems:

Two bosses

Injured workers who are voluntold to do volunteer work are paid by their employers. Since the employers are paying them they have to answer to their employers. Workers are also accountable to onsite supervisors for the non-profit. Two bosses leads to communication problems and that often leads to problems for injured workers — who in practical terms are often already on thin ice with many employers for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Different hazards

When a worker returns to work in a light duty job, there is a good chance that a supervisor has some idea about the employees work restrictions. That’s less likely when dealing with a new employer.

Some so-called light duty jobs aren’t always light. Some injured workers get temporarily assigned to work at Goodwill Stores. However most retail work requires a 50-pound lifting ability along with extended standing. Bell ringing usually requires long-term standing. And while insurance side thought leaders like to use terms like “resilience”, they have cushy indoor jobs. Trying standing outside on a cold December day in Nebraska for eight hours being forced to volunteer. This is never a pleasant prospect and it’s certainly more risky as the COVID pandemic extends into month eight in the United States.

Win-Win or Win-Lose?

The insurance industry touts the well-being benefits of volunteer to work to injured workers. But on closer look these benefits, nebulous as they are, are mostly backed by anecdotal evidence. But even if you take the benefits of corporate volunteering at face value, a lot of those benefits come through so-called VTO or volunteer time off programs. In those programs, companies have employees take time off for community projects or pay employees to volunteer for organizations they care about.  That’s a whole other situation from telling an injured worker to go out in the cold and raining bells for the Salvation Army 40 hours a week or they will get fired while they still recovering from an injury.

But while then benefits of voluntold jobs are dubious at best to workers, businesses who voluntold their workers get a nice some nice PR.

Why can’t workers just collect TTD and volunteer on their own?

Why can’t workers just volunteer for an organization they like and collect TTD? Many workers are rightly concerned that employers are surveilling them. But even if a worker isn’t under surveillance, employers and their insurance companies fundamentally like to control their employees — including and especially their injured workers. Employers want to control which doctors you see and what kind of care you get from your doctor through the use of nurse case managers.

But even if an employee manages to get proper medical care for a work injury, some employers aren’t content to let their workers stay home for a few months while they get healed. Employment at-will gives employers all sorts of leverage over their employees. Voluntold programs are just one example of how this power dynamic plays out.

Things work differently when a collective bargaining agreement is in place. Unions sometimes negotiate their own return to work programs. But I’ve seen insurance companies and their vendors ignore these agreements and try to force union members into voluntold jobs.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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