If you’ve been injured at work, it’s not uncommon to be given work restrictions. Of course, these restrictions are going to limit which jobs you can take on. You may not be ready to return to your old job right away. However, if your employer has an available job within those restrictions, you must go back to work in order to maintain your benefits.
What if the job your employer offers you is located 50 miles away from where you live? Are you required to make that commute in order to keep your benefits? This situation was called into question in 2012. A man who lived in Tennessee but worked as an iron worker on a construction project in North Carolina suffered a fracture to his lower left leg. He applied for workers’ compensation and began receiving benefits.
While he was healing, he was given work restrictions. His company had no positions that met his work restrictions in North Carolina; instead they offered him a position in Charleston, South Carolina — more than 50 miles away. Despite the fact that he would have been making equal pay to his old job, he turned this position down. The distance made it unsuitable.
Instead he started working a number of minimum wage jobs to compensate. When the insurance company found out, they tried to revoke his workers’ compensation because he had refused suitable employment.
In the end, the court ruled that the man was in the right because the need for the job to be within 50 miles is a requirement rather than a guideline. There is no need to work a job that is an unreasonable distance away.