Workers Comp Manipulation

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about employee threat of Workers Comp:

What are some ways a supervisor can deal with an employee who uses a threat of a possible Workers Comp claim for stress to fend off questions about his or her performance?

Signed, Super With A Stress Headache

Dear Super With A Stress Headache:

A hard-nosed answer to your question comes from a long-time HR Manager Dan Kearney with whom I shared your question. It is not the only answer, but one you can weigh: “First off, stress is not covered under worker’s comp, at least not in Illinois. Two, get the company attorney involved. This is a claim no matter how you look at it and a fraudulent one. Keep the attorney informed of the date, time, and what was said and who was present. Three, record and document all reference to the employee’s performance whether it be written or verbal. Then fire the son of a bitch.”

Of course you will want to consult with and keep your own superior informed about this threat and the situation. It is possible you are in a state that has encountered suits that have been won by those who have charged stress related injuries. There are stress-related workplace matters, such as high presser computer work that results in carpal tunnel injury. A Canadian report states: “Ergonomists generally recognize that stress can damage employee health, safety and productivity. The byproducts of stress, insomnia, stroke, hypertension, heart attack, diabetes, cancer, obesity, auto-immune diseases and premature aging, are well documented. An article published in The Ergonomics Report. See Tough Dynamic Managers” – The Ergonomic View,” published in The Ergonomics Reportâ in May 2005Also it behooves supervisors and managers to be alert to how stress can provoke workplace violence. Therefore, your question evokes more than a simple remedy when you consider what stress-related issues might be evident in your particular workplace. Even if you take the HR hard-nosed advice, all such threats suggest that there is more going on that isn’t worker friendly or that you might have a manipulative employee. Do keep us informed. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, is advice that is difficult to apply when threatened. Please let us know how you work through this.

William Gorden