T Nation

Advice: Workplace Injury, Unemployment


I'm waiting for someone in HR to get back to me on this thing that's going on with my girlfriend and her job, but since I likely won't get an answer back until the end of the day I thought I'd post here and see if someone smarter than me might give input.

My girlfriend works at Sonic Drive-In. She was injured a few weeks back while working (fell while on roller-skates) and injured her hip. She was out for about a week (worker's comp paying for doctor visits), then was released by the doctor to come back to work on "light duty" (with restrictions).

She returned to work for 1 week, then had a car accident in which she was banged up pretty badly and had to be out of work AGAIN for a week.

Her follow-up (in regards to the accident) appointment was yesterday, and the doctor determined that her injuries from the car accident were no longer an issue as far as her returning to work. However, her hip injury (from the on-the-job injury) was still serious enough to warrant restrictions at work: 6 hours max shift, sit-down break every hour, etc.

When she called her manager yesterday to tell him that she could come in for her scheduled shift today, he told her he didn't want her to come back yet. At first he said that it was because she has to wear a medical boot, which is not part of the uniform (black non-slip shoes). However, the medical boot is both black AND non-slip.

She pointed out anyway that all she would be doing was sitting in a chair and answering speaker (taking orders), since that is what her scheduling manager told her she could do pursuant to the restrictions listed on the doctor's release.

He basically implied that she would not be much help and would possibly be in the way. He vaguely suggested that "maybe she could wait until next Thursday or Friday and see" how she's feeling.

Anyway, my main question is--

Can she qualify for unemployment compensation for the time that they are not allowing her to return to work even though the doctor has cleared her for restricted duty?

And if so, can she file retroactively for the last week that she completely missed due to her accident?

I read in the Workforce Commision website that an individual can recieve benefits if their hours are reduced due to no fault of their own, I just didn't know if that included a temporary disability on account of an on-the-job injury.

Much gratitude for any help.


"wait until next thursday or friday"

HAAHAHAH That's such BS. Your doctor should have given an actual date when it would be acceptable for your girlfriend to come back to work. If she waits that long, it might be too late, as per HR policy. My brother did the same thing.....and they made some lies about the dates so he was terminated basically by default.

Sonic is kind of dangerous to work at for girls b/c of the skates thing, and they realize this, so they need to do compensate employees when they bust their ass on the ground.


Also, if the doctor clears her for restricted or light duty....then they have to allow her to do that. And yes, she can file......check with your states dept of injured employee counsel or workers comp. actually you're in texas....me too. There is an office in Tyler, call them to see what you can do.


awesome, thanks alot.


The doctor has to file a "back to work" form with the Sonic compensation insurance carrier. They inform the management rep that she can go back to work, in her case with some limitations. Which basically screwed her over. The doctor should have kept her out until she was 100% recovered.

The big question, is the doctor a "company" doctor? Some businesses keep a local doctor that they use for employee physicals and comp exams. They work in favor of the business of course.

Her best bet is to retain a Workmans Compensation lawyer. They are free and their cost comes out of any settlement that she gets from the injury, no settlement, no cost to her ever. The lawyer will make sure that she gets paid up to date. Having a lawyer also can prevent them from screwing her over, which seems to be the way things are going.

Good luck!



Yes, well they sent us to a specific doctor like you said. He did release her to go back to work, which is why I thought it was effed up that they didn't want her there. We talked about calling a lawyer to at least get a consultation, though she doesn't really want to take it that far. She really just wants to go back to work.

An update, though--I just talked to her co-manager at work and told her all the things I WANTED my gf to say and she said to have her call later and they'll see about putting her on tomorrow. I'm waiting to see if it actually happens, though, since they've habitually gone back on things they've said in the past (she's been there for 3 years).

Thanks for the help.


Workman's comp is such a tricky thing with little nuances here and there depending on the job and where you live. As a previous person suggested you really should talk to a lawyer and make sure to keep copies of all paperwork.