A 71-year-old worker for the Baltimore County Department of Public Works was unwillingly forced into retirement in 2011 after being injured on the job and applying for workers’ compensation. And while being laid-off from his job, the county was threatening to appeal the workers’ compensation matter that was apparently decided in the worker’s favor.
The worker apparently felt that he could still make a contribution to his place of employment. He was being paid $45,630 per year in his position and likely also did not wish to give up on that paycheck. Due to this and a number of other grievances, he then instituted a lawsuit against Baltimore County.
The county reportedly cancelled his spouse’s survivor’s benefits and attempted to claim that there was no grounds for a workers’ compensation claim as the worker had taken a disability retirement. Apparently the county had taken similar actions against other county employees regarding disability claims.
In any case, the county was forced to pay a heavy price for its actions. The county has now agreed that they will pay the worker two years of back pay, will reimburse him for emotional damages and legal fees, will put back into place the survivor’s benefits for his spouse and would drop any appeal for the workers’ compensation claim. The county also has ended up paying close to $2 million to 14 other employees who had filed disability claims.
There are many ways that employers will interpret workers’ compensation laws, and sometimes the interpretations are used to deprive workers of their rightful benefit claims. Because this area of law is so complex, any injured worker with a grievance should speak to an attorney who deeply understands workers’ injury claims.
Source: Towson Patch, “Baltimore County Settles Disability Case With Employee,” Bryan P. Sears, Aug. 8, 2013