Actual case of a worker who left alternative duty without notice:
What should the employer do?
An employee originally asked for alternative duty for a "tennis elbow" or "sprain." There was no mention of this condition being work related. To make a long story short, the employee left the job, later indicating that the alternative duty caused her pain and that she was going to go out on Short Term Disability.
When she gave the forms to the doctor, he claimed it was Workers’ Comp, after treating her for four weeks but never completing the Worker’s Comp injury form required by the state.
The employee came back to the employer with a doctor’s note indicating Workers’ Comp. The insurance company denied the claim for lack of medical evidence to support the doctor’s contention that the injury was work related. At that point, the employee engaged the services of a lawyer.
The employer sent out an offer of alternative duty on Friday. When the employee arrived for work on Monday, she met with the employer and discussed job duties. The employee was then advised to report any difficulties to her supervisor or the HR person.
She left without giving notice to her supervisor and told the receptionist she was not coming back.
What action should the employer take? Contact the employee? Let her go for leaving without notice as specified in the company’s employee handbook? If she quits, how does that impact her case?
Recommendation from a WorkComp Advisor: Understanding why she left is the challenge. Don't assume anything. No fault attendance policies are still subject to ADA, FMLA and Workers’ Compensation anti-retaliation parameters.
Send a note to the employee recapping the events, including her comment to the receptionist that she was quitting. Indicate that if she does not provide a legitimate response within three days as to why she quit, her resignation will be accepted. Send the note by Certified Mail. Also, attempt to do an exit interview and document thoroughly.