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Controversy over phone company's suspension of injured workers

If someone in Grand Junction is injured at work, he or she should be able to report that injury secure in the knowledge that it will not affect his or her chance at employment. Especially in Colorado's no-fault system, the idea that someone could be punished for reporting a workplace injury seems ridiculous. Unfortunately for employees of AT&T, it appears the communications giant has done just that.

It should be mentioned that this did not happen in Colorado, but it is unacceptable to punish someone for reporting an on-the-job injury regardless of what state a worker is in. In fact, the Indiana Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against AT&T for discriminating against three employees.

The three men were all injured on the job and all of them needed to take time off of work to recover. All of them also were suspended for, according to AT&T, violating the company's safety policies.

The real problem, however, is that when a company suspends someone for an injury, even if an employee was hurt while violating the company's safety policies, it is breeding a culture in which it is risky to report any workplace injuries. Even those accidents that are outside of the employee's control could potentially be framed as a violation of company policies.

Fortunately for employees in Colorado, when someone is hurt at work, he or she can receive workers' compensation, even if the injury is his or her fault. In Colorado's no-fault system, the benefits cannot be denied to an employee based on who caused the injuries.

Source: Indianapolis Business Journal, "State sues AT&T for suspending injured workers," Dan Human, Aug. 5, 2013

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