Anti-discrimination bill in 2005 Oregon Legislature

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Anti-discrimination bill in 2005 Oregon Legislature

Postby Webmaster » March 1st, 2005, 6:19 pm

Injured Worker Newsletter
February 17, 200

Employment and Disability Discrimination

We're asking for experiences and evidence of discrimination for Oregon Senate Bill 194. Read the 2005 legislative session bill at http://landru.leg.state.or.us/05reg/mea ... intro.html.

An average of 2,500 complaints are filed annually with BOLI’s Civil Rights Division and in a recent year, 21 percent involved injured worker discrimination. Numerous injured workers have approached injured worker advocates and described experiences that blatantly violate state and federal law. The problem has been a lack of adequate funding to investigate and no communication between government agencies.

Injured workers face discriminatory practices when they seek reemployment with the employer-at-injury. When seeking work elsewhere, claim record information has been used illegally by employment screening companies. There's discrimination due to disability even though there's civil rights “protected class” status.

Discrimination occurs at a time when many injured are financially destitute and emotionally drained by the workers' comp. system itself. Workers have also endured harassment and intimidation by employers and even by fellow workers who believe they were negatively impacted in wages, safety bonuses, and other benefits because a workers' compensation claim was filed.

The official summary of Senate Bill 194 is:
    Transfers moneys from Workers' Benefit Fund to Bureau of Labor and Industries Account for activities related to discrimination against injured workers. Requires Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services to provide materials and information to Bureau of Labor and Industries. Permits director to use moneys in fund to pay expenses of providing materials and information. Requires ombudsman for injured workers to share with bureau information relating to injured workers.
The Workers' Benefit Fund is funded through equal contributions by workers and employers. In other words, it doesn't use general tax dollars, so short these days. This bill is similar to one injured worker advocates proposed in the last session but went nowhere because MLAC refused to hear it. Details of House Bill 3592 are at http://www.injuredworker.org/IWC/2003_bills.htm#3592.

It's crucial that you send us testimony specific to discrimination. Please contact us at iwa@injuredworker.org if you'd like to testify on this before legislators or MLAC. No date has been set yet. Send testimony to the e-mail address if you want us to provide it for you. You can also fax testimony to 503-656-9333 or mail it ASAP to:
Injured Workers' Alliance
PO Box 614, West Linn, OR 97068

Please forward this around. Together, we can stop the illegal practices taking place that hurt so many.

Injured Workers' Alliance (Oregon)
www.injuredworker.org
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been there done that...........boy oh boy ......I survived

Postby bunziebabe » April 25th, 2005, 8:34 pm

So if you are so interested in some of the things that are wrong with the State and its issues then how about start with this.
I have worked for the "State of Oregon" for 12 years now and I am faced with no unemployment, no disability, no medical and I can not hardly work.....the Dr. says that I can only hold down light sedentary work.
Three and one half years ago I developed upper extremity pain and fatigue in both of my arms, wrists and hands. I was then diagnosed with Bilateral Carpal Tunnel. So I filed a Workman's Compensation claim for some help with my medical to be able to have my injuries fixed and enable me to get back to work, pain free.
The Dr. that did the surgery did not want to hassle filing a 801 because I had my own medical insurance plan. He said he would prefer just to bill my insurance company instead. Being in extreme pain I relented and agreed to have the surgery. I signed up for my FMLA/OFLA and in July 2001 I had surgery on my left elbow to to fix the entrapped nerve, and Carpal Tunnel release surgery on my left hand. Then in August 2001, I had carpal tunnel release surgery on my right hand.
In November 2001, my FMLA/OFLA was exhausted and I was forced by medical and financial reasons to return to work. My supervisors had replaced my job and position. One of which had not a lot of heavy typing. But instead they had me sit at the telephone for 8 hours a day and answer the phone and constantly look up clients information. Then write phone messages to the workers when their voicemail was full. I was only able to work full time for two weeks. This was extremely stressful and I have osteoarthritis of both of my knees so sitting at the desk for 8 hrs I could not hardly walk after my day and constantly looking up clients information and entering data was not allowing my wrists to recover. In December 2001 My Doctor reduced my work hours to 4 hours per day. This was much better. I continued working in January 2002 for 4 hours per day. Then the first of February 2002 , my operations manager said that if I did not start working more hours a day my job could be in jeopardy. So February 2002 fearing the loss of my job I started working 5 and 6 hours per day. The duties that the operations managers made me do then was constant data entry for the food stamp workers ......so for 6 hrs a day that is what I did. The 3rd week of Feb 2002 My doctor put me on 6 weeks of workman's compensation paid time loss and filed a new claim for medial epicondiylitis (painful and inflamed left elbow.) Then on April 3, 2002, per workman's compensation the Dr. said that I was stationary and would not get any better and I either had to go back to work or lose my job....I do not understand this. Not well enough to work but, If I did not return then I would be fired.
My operations managers then said that I had to come back to work full time too. So I did. I have been in pain every day since that time.......In July 2002 I had exhausted all of my sick leave again and missed some other days. My operations manager's then gave me a letter of expectation to make it to work each and every day and not to use anymore (x) time or I would be terminated. So I struggled until December 2002 when I underwent the second Carpal Tunnel Release on my right wrist....this time by a different hand surgeon ....he too did not want to hassle the legal paper work that is involved and he said we cannot prove it is work related. The bottom line again .........my medical insurance could be utilized. Ha Ha us state employees have good medical ....according to whom I would like to know...........we have lousy health benefits..........still have to pay $25.00 per prescription. I have 5 prescriptions to buy each month.....Every time I go to the dr. it is $15.00 then they refer me to physical therapy for the grand total of $ 50.00 per visit because our coverage is not good. So once again I underwent my second carpal tunnel release surgery.
I returned to work in Feb of 2003 to full time receptionist where I am constantly looking up client information and entering information into the on line narratives. Constantly grasping a pen to write in the intake logs and messages to workers ...........8 hours per day on the average approximately 10,000 key strokes per day. Alternating with repetitive hand writing.
In June 2003 my dr gave me a prescription to have my desk ergonomically assessed. This finally was completed in September 2003. In October those same painful feeling in my left hand and wrist and left elbow started to occur again. After work every night I go home and use the ice bag and the heating pad to eleviate the swelling and pain in my left hand and arm. This is what I do to continue to work at a work place that I actually love...... I believe in the whole process of TANF Temporary Assistance for Needy families.....As you see I was a client that became employed with the state and then became self sufficient for 12 yrs anyway...
In July of 2003 I had my Workman's Compensation hearing and the IME Mark Kirshner's report stated that the reason for my carpal tunnel was due to my morbid obesity. ( morbid obesity is explained as being at least 100 lbs over weight........of which I do NOT fall into that catagory. I have no diabetes, thyroid or other issues that seem to cause carpal tunnel. I lost my case. I have in excess of $15,000 medical bills, have no more FMLA/OFLA, no sick time. I am exhausted and get more tired each day..........
In November 2003 once again I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel of both wrists bilaterally and I need to have my ulnar nerve unentraped again.....my hands hurt constantly and elbow is in pain most of the time except when my whole left arm is numb. I also now have medial and lateral epicondylitis, a right torn rotator cuff, and trigger points in my
upper trapezius muscles both left and right side.

UPDATE as of 12-13-03..............The Carpal tunnel in my right hand and left hand IS BACK NOW..........The hand surgeon said that he can not operate on the right one again............permanent nerve damage.......he said he can operate on the left one again and on the left ulnar nerve again.......so I am looking at two more surgeries................
But, No time, no money no nothing.....
When I went to my workmans compensation hearing and the State of Oregon's Independent Medical Evaluator have said such unreasonable things about me and this injury. Then he also got his other IME buddies to back him up. I do not know where to turn.
I do have a Dr. Who is an Osteopathic Physician as well as a
Physiatrist. (nerves, muscles and tendons) that said this is all an
upper limb-extremity occupational work related hazard/injury. What am I
supposed to do.....How can I win....I have used up all of my sick leave,
vacation, disability and friends and families money. I feel so used
up.....I love my job and I also love helping the clients that we
serve......13 yrs ago I was on welfare and I utilized the things that
were available to me to help me get ahead and now the 12 yrs I have
worked for the state I am nothing and nobody.........please help with
the any help or advice... I have thought of going on short term disabililty and then long term disability but the cost of my health coverage would cost me over $500.00 per month plus my co pays. I would not be able to pay my rent and utilities in order to just exist.... Help me please
It has taken me a long while to put this all together. I feel it
may help someone at sometime, maybe even me. This article is being put
on paper for many reasons.
First, the memory fades and so do the times and details. Next, these are the steps, feelings, struggles and turmoil that you may face, if you follow the high road to get your version heard. Administrative Law is regulated by whom is doing the speaking and how who is interpreting the law at that time. These are a few of the hurdles, roadblocks and stepping stones that you may face when undertaking the painstaking ordeal of entering the world of Medical Health Plan providers, Health care professionals, State Agency, and the Workman's Compensation Board.
To start with, for 12 years, I have been doing either filing, writing
phone messages, entering handwritten narratives or entering data into
the computer or narrating into a word-perfect file on the computer.
After the online narrating was implemented, which is an on line database
narration.
To begin I have been employed by my employer since November 1990. My first job with them was as a file clerk. My job duties were to organize and keep the entire branches hard case files alphabetized, organized, purged and archived. This required placing them on the shelf and pulling some to purge the case record, and either put them back on the shelf or box them up to go to Salem, Oregon. For the Archives Record Department. I was in charge of carrying the case records to and from the caseworkers. I did this chore all day and every day for the first year I was employed with them. I carried case records to and from the file room to the workers. I typed new case record labels and then filing them away on the shelf. Answering the telephones, looking up client information on the computer CRT, taking hand written phone call messages to their worker, and for the managers. I did this all day and every day for one year.
My next position I was the ID clerk, my duties were answering the
telephones again, taking phone messages, doing the incoming and outgoing
mail into the branch. Open the envelopes and date stamping all of the
mail. Placing the mail into the workers, mail boxes. Filing case
records, place loose filing into the case records for the case workers.
Ordering supplies and forms then receiving them and putting them away
into their respective shelves. I assisted the file clerk with her duties
in the file room also purging and filling the boxes for the archives
again. I then loaded up the boxes of files. As the ID Clerk I had to
look up on the computer every application and update all pertinent
information by entering the date into the computer. I did this for
another year.
I then transferred to another position and was the unit
clerk/secretary. Here again I took phone messages by hand and filing the
workers mail into their mail boxes, alphabetized their mail and loose
filing for the case records then drop filing them into the clients cases
records inside the file cabinets. I reviewed the redetermination papers
for the clients and updated the case on the computer. I did this 8 months.
I then transferred to JOB'S Unit, as the Unit clerk/database operator,
where the amount of data entry was for eight hours per day. This was
entering times and dates into the database for the client's attendance
in JOB'S program. Keep hand written logs of intakes and job meetings. I
did intakes for the teen parent caseworkers for the new applications for
PLM (Poverty Level Medical) did the intake, set up the medical case and
food stamps and do the issuance of benefits. I did this for two
years.
I was then promoted to be a case worker. I secretly chuckled to myself
. . . saying ah hah no more loose filing for the case workers. I then
was one of them. But, by then the agency had decided that the case
workers must enter all incoming mail received into the online narrative
on the computer. So now all case workers had to do their own loose
filing. Just my luck. Now the intense stuff started. I did six to seven
cash and food stamps and Oregon health plan intakes per day, five days
per week. Hand written narratives pertaining to the case. Then shortly
after that the shortened hand written narratives became work intensive.
An entire page of information pertaining to the case, in word-perfect
templates now. Then all of the data entry into the computer to set up
the case and issue the benefits. Each intake took approximately 45
minutes to an hour to complete. Take each phone call as they called,
enter all information from the client regarding their case into the
narratives. Log all phone calls received and then make return calls to
the clients then narrate all information. At this time my caseload was
for 250 ongoing cases/clients. I was also the branch's LAN
Administrator, for the Local Area Network. As the LAE I needed to set up
all new computers and basic installation for the workers with the new
software and add new memory. I had to physically move and setup all the
computers in each workers work space. CPU'S are not light or easy to
move around. A very physical challenge. This also required me to move
the new monitors as well. This also meant I had to keep all of the
computers in the branch working and make all repairs or call the
technicians to repair what I could not do. In addition to my cases and
my caseworkers' duties. It never seemed that I never got done what I
needed to get done in my 8-hour day. I did this job for five years. A
lot of times overtime was allowed and that was the only way that I could
complete my all of my job duties. I did love my job and I still do enjoy
the job. There is nothing more rewarding then to be able to assess a
client's skill, strengths and their needs. Put together a plan to assist
them in removing their barriers to employment. Then the thrills of
seeing my clients become stable and self sufficient. Not to need the
services or assistance any longer
For a period of one year I went out of the office to a drug/alcohol
treatment center to do my intakes. At first I had to hand write all of
the narratives and then go back to the branch with all of the intake
files and paperwork then enter all the information into the narratives
online and enter all of the data entry and do the issuance of benefits.
Then working with my manager, we got a laptop computer which I got to
carry back and forth to the treatment center.
The paperwork got so intense and the stress and physical inability to
continue carrying all of these items back and forth back and forth from
the branch and the treatment center. I worked with my manager again that
I needed to work more with the clients again. Not to just determine
eligibility and issue benefits. I took a voluntary demotion to a low
level caseworker. I still did intakes and narratives. Assess strengths,
skills and needs of the clients narrate this and enter data into the
computer. Then passed the case to the case manager then to work with the
clients more. Then once again management decided to change my position
to a clerk typist/data entry clerk. I then was in charge of typing
checks for medical transportation clients. Keep hand written logs of bus
tickets, checks issued, electronic benefit cards. These were to be
reconciled daily and I had to lock them up every time I got into the
file cabinet. I did this for eight months.
I transferred to another branch to get to be able to work with the
clients again. Assessing their strengths, skills and needs and then
enter narratives and do the data entry for the case and pass the client
and the case onto the case manager. I also work at the reception desk
and this is a very stressful position. Clients are not happy when they
do not get to talk to their case workers or get the benefits that they
think they need instead of what they are entitled to. I have to look up
on the computer for each client. Then enter information regarding their
being there or reason for coming to the office. Enter information on
application. Put applications together, date stamp all mail entering the
front desk, Keep hand written logs of clients and appointments. Take
messages to the workers and managers. I am still employed in this
capacity.
Please advise me.......
bunziebabe
 
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