Ideally, workers would remain healthy and never suffer from a single injury while on the job. However, that is not always the case, and businesses need to keep themselves protected to ensure that they can remain profitable through any situation.
Enrique Gutierrez had to undergo multiple surgeries to repair his wrist and rotator cuff after injuries sustained from falling 10 feet at his place of employment, Merivic Inc. According to the source, Gutierrez had a ninth grade education and a "limited working knowledge" of English, even though he had lived in the United States for 34 years.
After being unable to return to Merivic and not finding work elsewhere, Gutierrez filed for worker's compensation. An arbitration hearing determined that he had suffered a 100 percent total loss of his earning capacity as a result of the work injury.
Merivic appealed, saying that Gutierrez demonstrated a lack of motivation for learning English, and his award should be reduced. However, the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the ruling.
Officials cited a previous case, Lovic v. Construction Projects Inc., in which the Iowa worker's compensation agency decided to stop penalizing migrant workers for failing to learn English. Until that case, it was standard practice to lower awards for workers with limited English skills.
"Merivic essentially seeks to turn back the clock to the pre-Lovic era when the commissioner accepted a claimant's failure to learn English as a basis for reducing the claimant's award," the court said. "That ship has sailed."
Employees have a legal recourse to seek damages from their employer. The expenses can be immense for businesses that do not have a worker's compensation policy in place. Partnering with an insurance provider will help companies find a policy best-suited to their needs.