Theft in the workplace is a serious problem in America. According to a recent report by CBS News, organizations lose an average of 5 percent of their revenue each year to employee fraud and stealing. When on-the-job thieves suffer a workplace injury, they are still eligible for compensation under Illinois law. A recent case in DuPage County has confirmed the right to benefits after termination for stealing. Algonquin worker comp lawyers are aware that this principle can place employers at risk of additional financial costs after a theft.
Injury and workplace theft at Wal-Mart
A night stocker for Wal-Mart named Walter Matuszczak was injured in March 2010 while moving heavy boxes. He sought medical care for his neck, back and arm injuries, but he was eventually forced to leave the stockroom and switch to part-time light duty that did not involve lifting. While he was recovering from his injuries, he stole cigarettes from his employer on a number of occasions. When Wal-Mart discovered the theft, the company fired Matuszczak and denied him ongoing benefits for his injuries.
Arbitration and successful appeal
Matuszczak appealed the negative decision, sought arbitration and pursued the case to the Illinois Appellate Court. The court ruled that he had the right to continued benefits, including all of the following:
- $15,000 in accumulated medical costs
- Coverage for recommended surgery
- Temporary total disability payments while unable to work
The court came to the conclusion that his workplace theft and subsequent firing did not affect his right to workers’ compensation for an earlier, unrelated injury.
Not an unusual situation
Algonquin worker comp lawyers know that this situation is not unusual for workers and employers. On numerous recent occasions, an injured worker in Illinois has sought additional compensation after leaving a job through termination or personal choice. Employers must cover all continuing medical expenses and disability costs after an injury on the job, even if the employee is no longer associated with the business.
Cutting long-term costs through increased safety
Companies are responsible for the long-term consequences of all injuries in the workplace. Small business owners and other employers can decrease their financial risk when they invest in greater safety. According to OSHA statistics, thorough training and up-to-date equipment can cut workplace accidents by more than 80 percent in many sectors. Algonquin worker comp lawyers know that increased safety measures are good for employers as well as employees.
Are you struggling with the aftermath of a work accident in Illinois? You may find it helpful to contact a personal injury attorney.