The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently dismissed a suit filed by a former employee of Cumberland County Hospital System, ruling that the court lacked jurisdiction in a case belonging to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
Those dealing with a North Carolina work injury, retaliatory firing, or other employment issue, should consult a workers’ compensation attorney to protect their rights. As this court ruling shows, the industrial commission has control over all workers’ compensation claims, and all issues arising from them. Failure to properly protect yourself can leave you unable to collect damages through more traditional avenues and court filings.
In this case, a housekeeping assistant suffered a series of work-related injuries in 2007. A year after she filed the last workers’ compensation claim, she filed an employment discrimination claim against the employer, claiming the employer refused to permit her to be treated by her preferred physician and refused to permit her to return to work in a light-duty position.
The trial court dismissed the lawsuit, and the court of appeals upheld the decision; both ruled the issues involved her workers’ compensation case and therefore were the exclusive jurisdiction of the industrial commission. The courts said a dispute over her choice of physicians could in no way be connected to the normal “terms, conditions, privileges and benefits of her employment.”
Additionally, the court found the employer was not obligated to make reasonable accommodations for her work injury, as would have been required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is an important issue that is arising with increasing frequency in North Carolina work accident cases. What it essentially means is that injured workers are not afforded the same protection as employees who were hired with known disabilities and that employers do not have to go out of their way to create “light duty” positions for injured employees.
Dealing with a work accident case can be a complex process. Failure to handle it properly can have long-term consequences on the financial well-being of you and your family. Please contact the North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965.