Workers Comp Return to Work and the ADA

Workers Compensation graphic by Professional Insurors OKC.

Under many Workers Comp systems, once an employee has reached a light duty, permanent, and stationary phase, the employer will often have the opportunity to provide them with modified work, alternative work, or ultimately, vocational rehabilitation. Many employers will gloss over the concurrent obligation to engage in a good faith interactive process with the employee to determine effective reasonable accommodations under the ADA — to do the job they were hired for!

So, for example, although they may limit the employee's ability to return to work until 100% fit for duty under Workers Comp, this is not the law under the ADA. For example, if a worker is 85% fit for duty, you have to search out a reasonable accommodation that might allow them to be 100% effective. In too many cases, the employer simply evaluates the modified alternative work option without engaging in a dialogue with the employee to do the job they were hired for.