Can I sue this company?

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Can I sue this company?

I am a 20 year old female residing in New Hampshire. I was a full time employee at a shoe store called ‘Journeys’. Last summer, I got hurt stepping down from a ladder. I injured a tendon in my foot/ankle. I filed for workers comp and the claim was approved. My doctor put me on work restrictions such as no more than 40 hours of work a week and no use of ladders, as well as minimal squatting and lifting. My work refused to abide by these restrictions and I was doing all of these things and working 50-60 hours a week, all while in a walker cast I ended up further injuring to the point of surgery Once surgery was in the cards, workers comp then decided it was not a work place injury and they were no longer covering it. Do I have a case here? Not only for the fact workers comp didnt pay for it, but also for the fact a minor injury turned into a surgery??

Asked on May 27, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't sue them for your injuries, because you chose to work under those conditions--you could have refused, even at the risk of being fired, to do things potentially injurious to you and instead brought a disability-related discrimination or harassment complaint. By choosing to squat, lift, climb ladders and work more than 40 hours, you, not your employer caused your injuries, because you are the one who did those things--again, could have said "no" and then taken the appropriate legal action, if any. Instead, you voluntarily put your job ahead of your health and your employer is not liable for that, any more than you would be liable if you offered someone $10 to climb a tree and get your kite down and they did, but then fell.
You can still try to bring an employment-related discrimation claim (which is not a claim for the injuries themselves) with the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency. Bear in mind that you are not guaranteed to win: your employer's only obligation is to make "reasonable accommodations," or changes in how you do your job which accommodate your condition and which are not too disruptice or expensive for them, and which let you do the job. If your job necessarily involves climbling ladders, lifting squatting, etc., then it is not a reasonable accommodation to let you out of those things, since in that case, if you did not do those things, you would not be doing your job. Your employer does not need to invent a different job for you, or pay you for not doing your job. Sometimes, there are simply jobs you can't do, either temporarily or permanently, due to medical conditions or injuries--when that is the case, you may need to look for other employment.


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