Published in The Sunday Oklahoman, March 12, 2000
Reproduced at

To The Editor:

I've worked for the past nine years as the "company doctor" for many businesses in Oklahoma. In my experience, 90 percent to 95 percent of workers simply want to get well and get back to work. They are frightened of retribution and loss of their jobs. Many times they do lose their jobs right after they return to full duty. This is supposed to be illegal, but it happens every day. I've fought with companies to get adequate care for these people; it's an uphill battle. Very few start with an attorney. Here is why they go to an attorney with a workers' compensation injury:

—They don't receive their pay for a month or more and no one at the company "knows anything about it."

—They are doing light duty, the supervisor refuses to follow the restrictions and the company won't enforce it.

—The supervisor and other employees are allowed to harass and ridicule the employee who is on light duty.

—They are refused the treatment their doctor recommends.

It's sad when someone has worked for a company for 20 years with excellent reviews but becomes a pariah when injured. Wise up, Governor. Some companies care nothing about the Oklahomans who work for them.

Melissa Smith-Horn