April 22, 2015
Psyched out—Preventing psychiatric injuries at work
By Jasmin Rojas, JD, Legal Editor
As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe work environment for all employees, free from any hazards and complying with all state and federal laws. Health and safety in the workplace is about preventing work-related injury and disease. Many workers' compensation programs are designed to reward employers for proactively implementing safety programs that reduce the potential for physical injuries. Thus employers invest in designing an environment that promotes physical well-being for everyone at work.
But, what about psychiatric injuries at work? Are you addressing those? Even though they are often an afterthought, there is no doubt that psychiatric stress cases can be costly, often involving expensive litigation. First, unlike physical claims, they are difficult to prove (or disprove). Furthermore, the costs of providing treatment, evaluation and compensation can be extremely high, not to mention the costs associated with lost productivity. Therefore, this is an area that employers cannot afford to overlook!
How are psychological injuries different from physical ones?
While the majority of workers’ compensation claims involve claims for physical conditions, there are a significant amount of cases based on mental or psychological injuries. Indeed, the majority of states do recognize that like physical ones, psychological injuries should be covered by workers’ compensation to some degree.
Mental workers’ compensation cases traditionally fall into one of three categories:physical/mental, mental/physical, or mental/mental claims. A physical/mental claim is a psychological injury that results from a physical injury or an occupational disease. An example of this type of claim is a worker developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of becoming injured by a severe work accident.
A mental/physical claim is a psychological workplace injury that results in a disabling physical condition. An example of these types of injuries is a sudden noise or flash at the worksite that results in paralysis or heart attack.
A mental/mental claim involves a psychological occurrence while working, leading to a psychological injury or condition. These are otherwise referred to as “pure stress” claims. An example of such a claim would be an incident where an employee who witnesses a horrific workplace accident later develops a fear of operating the same equipment on which the coworker was injured.
Employers are encouraged to check with their state laws regarding what type of mental injuries are covered by their state laws.
Don’t have a crystal ball? No problem! You can still prevent psychiatric claims.
Obviously, an employer cannot foresee all of the incidents that may lead to a mental illness workers’ compensation claim. However, like a physical injury, there are steps that an employer may take, regardless of the status of its state law, to reduce or avoid psychological injuries.
Responding to trauma at work.
Many employers are ill prepared to handle traumatic events. Yet these events do occur in our workplaces. How do you help your employees recover from this event, so that they will not suffer long-term effects as a result of trauma? How do you get your staff moving again after employees? Quite simply, preparation helps.
For victims of traumatic, violent or frightening events, it is important to provide support to all of the affected staff as soon as possible after the incident. Your caring presence can mean a great deal. Therefore, it is critical to let all employees know that you are concerned and doing all you can to help them.
Employers, at a minimum, can refer employees to a post trauma support groups and individual counseling. Employers may also want to explore enlisting the services of their Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or another professional.
Handling stressful work environments.
Employers can reduce workplace stress by making employees feel valued. First, employers should appear to be accessible to their workers. This can be achieved by soliciting input from employees, both formally and informally, about ways to make the work environment more productive and less stressful.
A key to this goal is to ensure effective communication with employees. This includes using available resources, such as newsletters, staff meetings and communication from supervisors to workers. It is also important to provide employees with an outlet to have their concerns addressed. Accordingly, employers should make sure that they have effective internal complaint procedures and some sort of informal dispute resolution system.
Avoiding psychiatric harm after physical injuries.
Employers can also attempt to avoid mental harm that arises from job-related physical injuries. As a general matter, employers should invest in learning how to legally manage employees who have pre-existing mental problems or stress issues that may be exacerbated by any physical injury.
Employers should also remember that physical injuries can cause a great deal of stress for employees. In addition to the pain and discomfort that employees may experience, they also may face financial or personal difficulties as a result of not being able to work.
Remember, most workers compensation laws only provide a fraction of the worker’s actual wages. Therefore, employers should explore how they can assist in resolving problems or personal issues that directly relate to the injury and can impact employee readiness to return to work.
Encouraging positive mental health generally.
It is no secret that employers should invest in their employees’ psychiatric well-being. Indeed, the returns for this type of investment increase morale and worker productivity. For instance, employers should ensure that they implement EAPs that acknowledge the interrelationship of work and family problems and should encourage stressed employees to seek help.
Employers should keep in mind that there are methods of managing employees that can, and do, give rise to psychological injury. Therefore, it is also important to ensure that managers are well trained in basic supervision skills. Unfortunately, many supervisors may set goals that are not necessarily realistic for their subordinates, who often make a lot less money. This is apt to cause resentment in the workforce. Supervisors should also avoid unnecessary frustrations by ensuring that their workers have the resources to meet their assigned responsibilities.
It is also critical that supervisors monitor and document their workers’ performance on an ongoing basis. They should provide continuous feedback, including expectations for improvement. Companies should also seek opportunities for reinforcing good performance. Often times, supervisors are so focused on dealing with “problem” employees that they forget to recognize those that are doing a great job. These are the employees that are highly recruited and more apt to leave if they do not feel appreciated.
Supervisors should also be trained on how to constructively address trouble situations at work. This includes identifying behavior that may indicate problems that require professional assistance. Employers should further understand that harassment and bullying are great risks to an employee’s psychological well-being and have a plan in place to deal with these risks.
Although mental workers’ compensation claims represent a fraction of all claims, the reality of the current workplace should encourage employers to be alert to their existence. Employers should recognize that they are not alone and this does not have to be a daunting task. They can enlist support from their EAPs, local mental health agencies and support groups, and union representatives.
Jasmin M. Rojas, JD, is a Legal Editor for BLR’s human resources and employment law publications. Ms. Rojas has several years of experience as an attorney and writer in the field of human resources and has published numerous articles on a variety of human resources and employment topics, including compensation, harassment, discrimination, work/life issues, termination, and military leave. Ms. Rojas has also presented seminars and conducted supervisory training on issues including, but not limited to, sexual harassment and other forms of workplace harassment, ADA, FMLA, internal investigations, workplace violence and workplace privacy.
JOHN BUMPHUS VS. UNIQUE PERSONNEL CONSULTANTS
ILLINOIS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION
(THIS DRAFT HAS NOT BEEN FILED)
OPENING STATEMENT, AND PROPOSALS FOR ARBITRATOR’S DECISIONS
Re: Case # 15 WC 027577, John D. Bumphus, Jr. vs. UniQue Personnel Consultants
Illinois Workers Compensation Commission Office
1803 Ramada Blvd.
Collinsville, Illinois 62234
The date of my mental-mental injury was July 17, 2015. My employer’s office agent, UniQue Personnel Consultants employee Krista Findlay, personally caused the manifestation of my injury by duplicitous supervisory harassment, after initially and officially granting me a requested reasonable workplace physical accommodation due to my 2006 spinal fusion surgery, on the morning of July 14, 2015, and then arbitrarily and abruptly rescinding it three days later, on July 17, 2015, while subsequently ordering me to find additional verifiable written medical evidence, “on a doctor’s stationary”, other than the true and accurate actual documentary medical evidence excerpts which I had on that very day acquired from the office of my primary care physician, Dr. David Yablonsky, of Associated Physician’s Group, to present to her, in a failed attempt to establish the reality of my 2006 spinal fusion surgery having actually occurred. Krista Findlay was thereby, in violation of UniQue Personnel Consultants’ written public policy, directly and in effect harassing me, a disabled employee, by wrongly accusing me of potentially attempting to surreptitiously commit medical documentation fraud, in order to illicitly obtain some sort of fraudulent reasonable accommodation in the UniQue Personnel Consultants workplace.
- MEDICAL BACKGROUND
At the time of my discharge from employment I was, as I still continue to be, a disabled 61year-old Black man, who receives hospital insurance and medical insurance coverage under Medicare.
In July of 2005, I experienced an upper aortic dissection, which required thoracic endovascular aortic/aneurysm repair, also known as TEVAR. Subsequent to the placement of a thoracic stent graph, and while in the recovery hospital, I also was impacted by a pleural effusion, which required the insertion of an intercostal drain. During the course of those medical events, I contracted a degenerative viral infection which settled and expanded in the L4-5 region of my back, and was discovered in April of 2006. After the infection was drawn from my spine (while wide awake, during a CT scan, and with a very long needle), I was treated with an antibiotic regimen until August of 2006, when I went through 8 and ½ hours of anterior surgical repair and reconstruction. One month later, during a following September, 2006, posterior surgical repair, a rod and two pins were placed in my L4-5 region.
I am also, by way of the Social Security Administration, officially designated and acknowledged to be a psychologically disabled person after a 1996 California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board finding of a California Labor Code § 3208.3 cumulative stress injury, caused by the retaliatory and overtly demonstrative racial discrimination of my employer, the TIMEC Company, Inc., of Vallejo, California, coupled along with another, subsequent, federal court finding for the Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, in the court of U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston, during the 1998 federal civil rights trial of John Bumphus vs, TIMEC, C95-3400 (7/10/98).
Yes, I am a person who has actually and officially been rendered disabled by racism in the American workplace. I am still in treatment for the post-traumatic emotional stress disorder symptoms purposely inflicted upon me by those within the TIMEC Company, Inc., who sought and fought wholeheartedly and with full malice, to punish me severely for speaking out to them, within their own conflict resolution system, long before I ever even considered going to the federal government, about the one single, simple, occurring incident of just one of their racially discriminatory practices.
The reprehensible actions perpetrated by Krista Findlay of insinuating and accusing me, of attempting to commit medical documentation fraud, in order to obtain a fraudulent reasonable accommodation advantage in the UniQue Personnel Consultants workplace, due to my aforementioned 2006 spinal fusion surgery, continue to be deeply unsettling to me on a personal and emotional basis. For her to initially grant me a requested reasonable accommodation, by telephone on July 14, 2015, before arbitrarily and capriciously rescinding it three days later, on July 17, 2015, while at the same time summarily rejecting the presentation of my own personal medical record documentation (Exhibit A) of a June 16, 2015 CT angiogram conducted by Dawn M. Sander, ANP-BC, from the Section of Vascular Surgery at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, along with a document pertaining to non-vascular findings requested by Brian G. Rubin, M.D. on November 11, 2013, which revealed “Anterior and posterior fusion instrumentation is seen within L4-5 with bony debris seen anteriorly.”, which I was offering to her in an attempt to resolve the dispute, immediately, and from the outset, became overtly burdensome to my already medically-acknowledged damaged psyche. As a last-ditch effort of direct interpersonal communication, I even went so far as to personally and on that same July 17, 2015 date, present to her, at that same Glen Carbon, Illinois, office, a copy of my 2014 book, “Necessary Candor” (Exhibit B), wherein I had highlighted (in yellow) the pertinent text passages in the book’s pages 80 & 81, as I clearly and directly informed her verbally, and under my own copyright publishing ©2014 ISBN-10: #1495927784, that I am indeed a disabled individual receiving disability and psychological medical Medicare treatment and benefits from the Social Security Administration at Wellspring Resources (now known as Cornerstone) in Alton, Illinois. On November 25, 2015, in another effort to further substantiate my status as a disabled worker, I presented to the respondent’s attorney, Jennifer Yates-Weller, of Hennessy & Roach, P.C., an October 13, 2015, form letter (Exhibit C) generated by the Social Security Administration which identifies me as having been entitled to hospital insurance, and medical insurance under Medicare at the time of my July 17, 2015, discharge from employment.
- THE AMERICAN WITH DISABILITIES ACT, AND UNIQUE PERSONNEL CONSULTANTS WRITTEN PUBLIC POLICY
Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides, regarding discrimination against disabled workers, that:
SEC. 12112. [Section 102]
- General rule. - No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
UniQue Personnel Consultants’ own written and published policy, “UniQue Personnel Consultants/Unique Risk Associates’ Expectation & Benefits Guide” (Exhibit D) states, in the section designated EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY, “UniQue has been and will continue to be an equal opportunity employer. To assure full implementation of this policy, UniQue will take steps to assure that associates will not be discriminated against based on race, age, color, sex, marital status, religion, national origin, disability, or any other basis protected by federal and state laws.” And, in the section designated DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT ,“It is UniQue’s policy to maintain a work environment free of discrimination practices based on race, gender, sexual orientation, color, religion, age, national origin, disability or veteran status as stated in our Equal Opportunity statement. Further, UniQue expects its associates to act in accordance with this policy in all inter-company and business-related external relationships. This policy includes not engaging in any act that harasses any employee based on race, gender, sexual orientation, color, religion, age, national origin, disability or veteran status. Anyone who witnesses discrimination or harassment or believes they are the victim of discrimination should immediately report this matter to their supervisor or UniQue Consultant or the President of UniQue. All complaints or reports of discrimination and harassment will be promptly investigated by UniQue.”
- AN UNLAWFUL, RETALIATORY, STATUTORY DISCHARGE
To reiterate my point, it indeed remains puzzling and perplexing to me, that although I had presented Krista Findlay, on July 17, 2015, with legitimate excerpts of my own personal medical record documentation from the office of my own primary physician, Dr. David Yablonsky, of the Associated Physicians Group, which described “anterior and posterior fusion instrumentation within my L4-5 with bony debris seen anteriorly”, due to my 2006 spinal fusion surgery, along with my additional presentation to her of a copy of my own 2014 book, “Necessary Candor” (Copyright © ISBN-10 #1495927784) (Exhibit B), wherein I had directly informed her, that I am a disabled individual receiving disability and psychological medical Medicare treatment and benefits from the Social Security Administration at Wellspring Resources in Alton, Illinois she still, amazingly and in a clear, unflinching, simultaneous violation of both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) , and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, boldly went right ahead and deliberately chose to unlawfully discharge me from employment, after illicitly rescinding the reasonable accommodation she had verbally granted me, over the telephone three days earlier, on July 14, 2015. I have no idea or understanding as to what, in the complete corporate world of my interactions as a UniQue Personnel Consultants employee, could have possibly caused her, as their representative, to so vehemently call into question my moral turpitude, by challenging the veracity, ethics, and/or merit of my reasonable accommodation request.
It would seem that, after UniQue Personnel Consultants having already contracted for the conduction, on June 17, 2015, of a very thorough pre-employment criminal background check (Exhibit E) of me, John Bumphus, through ‘PreciseHire’, of McKinney Texas, which fully included and covered a Nationwide Criminal/Sex Offender Search, along with Arizona, California and Illinois statewide criminal searches; Maricopa County, Arizona, Solano County, California, and Madison County, Illinois, criminal background searches, which at its conclusion revealed no record of any criminal activity; therefore, it should have at least have been significantly established, at some level by that time, to UniQue Personnel Consultants, that I was not a person operating subjectively under a system cloud of moral turpitude. I am not a person who would “fake” about having had a spinal fusion back surgery.
Ms. Findlay’s official reply in comment, as a supervisory representative office agent of UniQue Personnel Consultants on July 17, 2015, to me about my employment status with UniQue Personnel Consultants, was that notwithstanding my subjective verbal complaints of lower back pain attributable to doing the same sort of bending, straining, and lifting task which had caused discomfort to my back during my inaugural June 21, 2015, working shift at the Yazaki warehouse, in Edwardsville, Illinois, in accompaniment with the personal, hand-delivered presented documentary evidence, of excerpts from my own private medical records pertaining to the evidence of my carrying within my spine the “medical instrumentation” which had been placed in my lower back during my 2006 spinal fusion surgery, that unless I ADDITIONALLY presented, to her, a signed physician’s statement, “on their office stationary” (Exhibit F), which would again medically substantiate my verbal and medical documentary claims, that my complaints of back pain “cannot be officially considered by the UniQue Personnel Consultants corporate”. And additionally, insofar as my being placed at a different UniQue Personnel Consultants job assignment, “We don’t have anything for you at $10.00 per hour.”
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act §4(h) Unlawful Discrimination (h) statute provides in relevant part:
“It shall be unlawful for any employer, insurance company or service or adjustment company to interfere with, restrain or coerce an employee in any manner whatsoever in the exercise of the rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act or to discriminate, attempt to discriminate, or threaten to discriminate against an employee in any way because of his or her exercise of the rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act.”; and,
“It shall be unlawful for any employer, individually or through any insurance company or service or adjustment company, to discharge or to threaten to discharge, or to refuse to rehire or recall to active service in a suitable capacity an employee because of the exercise of his or her rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act.”
- CIVIL REMEDY ACTION AGAINST UNIQUE PERSONNEL CONSULTANTS FOR THE RETALIATORY DISCHARGE OF JOHN BUMPHUS
The “tort of workers’ compensation of retaliatory discharge was judicially created by the Illinois Supreme Court in the 1978 case of Kelsay v. Motorola, Inc., 74 Ill. 2d 172, 23 Ill. Dec. 559, 384 N.E.2d 353, 115 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 4371 (1978). In Kelsay, the Illinois Supreme Court acknowledged that Illinois employees may serve at will and that no cause of action had previously existed to prevent their discharge. The court concluded that the cause of action should exist to permit employees to avail themselves of their statutory rights to recover under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and to remedy such discharges. It was felt that the Act would be a right without a remedy if employees face discharge for filing workers’ compensation benefits.
Thus, as in Kelsay, I, John Bumphus, as an unlawfully discharged employee, can now sue my employer, UniQue Personnel Consultants, in a civil action. I apparently cannot sue office agent Krista Findlay, or any other supervisory agent of UniQue who participated in my ouster from employment. The proper defendant in the retaliatory discharge action here is UniQue Personnel Consultants. Buckner v. Atlantic Plant Maintenance, Inc., 182 Ill.2d 12, 230 Ill Dec. 596, 694 N.E.2d 565, 13 I.E.R, Cas. (BNA) (1998).
- RETALIATORY DISCHARGE DAMAGES
As was also found in Kelsay, the same compensatory damages recoverable in general tort cases are recoverable in workers’ compensation retaliatory discharge cases. Punitive damages are also recoverable in workers’ compensation retaliatory discharge cases. Punitive damages are allowed only when the tort is committed with “fraud, actual malice, deliberate violence or oppression, or when the defendant acts willfully, or with such gross negligence as to indicate a wanton disregard of the rights of others.” The preliminary question of whether the facts of a particular case justify an award of punitive damages is a matter of law decided by the court.
- EMPLOYMENT HISTORY EVENTS
When I began my employment of working for UniQue Personnel Consultants at the Yazaki warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, on Sunday night June 21, 2015, as a third-shift crate-packing line worker, my rate of pay was $10.00 per hour, with a $.50 shift differential bringing the total rate to $10.50. On that first night during my inaugural June 21, 2015 scheduled work shift, I reported to UniQue shift supervisor Dana Felton, about a considerable amount of lower back pain involved, in the L4-5 region of my 2006 spinal fusion surgery which occurred during the repetitive bending to, and lifting up while twisting, of one particular large vehicle part task we were assigned; a task which I avoided, and effectively worked around, during the time I worked as a line worker, until my official promotion to Line Production Coordinator (LPC) status.
Beginning Sunday night, July 5, 2015, and ending Thursday morning, July 9, 2015, I was promoted to the position of third-shift Line Production Coordinator (LPC), at the same Yazaki warehouse, in Edwardsville, Illinois, and my $10.50 per hour rate of pay remained the same. The third shift was discontinued at the Yazaki warehouse on Friday, July 10, 2015. While working the four days of the work week covering Monday, July 13, 2015, through Thursday July 16, 2015, after being transferred to a second-shift Line Production Coordinator (LPC) position for UniQue Personnel Consultants at the Yazaki warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, my rate of pay was $10.00 per hour, with a $.25 shift differential bringing the total to $10.25. A thorough review of the 2nd shift crate-loading records at the Yazaki warehouse in Edwardsville, IL, for the dates covering July 13, 2015 through July 16, 2015, should establish that I was, indeed, performing “the job requirements of an LPC” at a rate better, or superior to, the other LPC’s working on the “FL3T-13A576-AF” table packing. On that week of my dismissal from UniQue Personnel I serviced, and audited, one table on Monday (7/13), two tables simultaneously on Tuesday (7/14), three tables simultaneously on Wednesday (7/15), and two tables again on Thursday (7/16). On Tuesday and Wednesday, I stayed overtime after shift to ensure the correctness of my table auditing sheets. Therefore, it should be established for the Court record that I was, and am able to, actually perform my assigned physical tasks as a Line Production Coordinator (LPC). The only issue of contention involved the arbitrary overtime tasks particularly assigned by the Yazaki warehouse 2nd shift UniQue Personnel Consultants supervisor, Donna May, which generally involved being directed to resume the bending to, and lifting up, of large vehicle parts, which I had initially reported as painful during my inaugural June 21, 2015 scheduled work shift. Again, my employer’s office agent, UniQue Personnel Consultants employee Krista Findlay, after initially, and officially, granting me a requested reasonable workplace accommodation due to my 2006 spinal fusion surgery regarding this issue, on the morning of July 14, 2015, arbitrarily and abruptly rescinded it three days later, on July 17, 2015, while subsequently ordering me to find additional verifiable written medical evidence, “on a doctor’s stationary”, other than the true and accurate actual documentary medical evidence excerpts which I had on that very day acquired from the office of my primary care physician, Dr. David Yablonsky, of Associated Physician’s Group, and which I had been presenting to her in a failed attempt to establish the reality of my 2006 spinal fusion surgery having actually occurred.
Six days later, on Thursday morning, July 23, 2015, I did indeed present to Krista Findlay of UniQue Personnel Consultants (as was her personal request), a signed and written (Exhibit F) from the Associated Physician’s Group’s Edwardsville, Illinois office (and “on their office stationary”), which requested that I, John Bumphus, be exempted from mandatory overtime that involves heavy lifting. Upon receipt of the statement, Ms. Findlay said that she would “pass it on to corporate”, and get back with me with their position “by the end of the day”. Later that afternoon, Ms. Findlay notified me that the statement “would be placed in my file”, and offered no further comment regarding any form of an apology, or of retracting her cutting blades of suspicious attack, or of reinstating me back to my July 17, 2015, position of employment, in any way whatsoever.
- MY JULY 28, 2015 LETTER TO UNIQUE PERSONNEL CONSULTANTS
On July 28, 2015, and while still in confused anguish, I presented a personal letter (Exhibit G) of complaint to my employer UniQue Personnel Consultants’ Glen Carbon, Illinois Office, pointing out to them that the Illinois Human Rights Act makes it illegal for them to discriminate against me on the basis of my race, or of my physical, mental or perceived handicap/disability; and, that Illinois law also provides broader protection for me, as a disabled employee, than the similar federal statute, the Americans with Disabilities Act, because it does not require that I have a substantial limitation of a major life activity; instead the state law defines disability or handicap as a “determinable mental or physical characteristic of a person.” State law also makes it illegal to “aid and abet” discrimination, which permits legal action to be taken against any person (not limited to an employee of your employer) who helped cause the discrimination against me to happen. I closed the document by stating that:
“I consider UniQue Personnel Consultants employees Dana Felton, Donna May, and Krista Findlay to be complicit in causing the aforementioned discrimination against me, John Bumphus, as a disabled employee of UniQue Personnel Consultants, to foment and evolve. I have been bullied, and repeatedly publicly humiliated, before being unceremoniously dismissed from a job I was learning and doing well. I was noted, and treated in the workplace, as a “slacker”-one who was unwilling to fully participate in the accomplishment of a collective job task, when nothing could be further from the truth. All along, since my FIRST June 21, 2015, shift at work on the first day of a job which had not been pre-discussed, or described to me in any advanced pre-notice or warning, whatsoever, my ONE AND ONLY complaint with UniQue Personnel Consultants, which has ALWAYS been a legitimate complaint, was that because I have a rod and two pins in my lower back, due to a 2006 spinal fusion surgery, the bending, straining, and lifting of heavy and awkward car components was causing inordinate discomfort to my back at the point which I perceived to be the (L-4, L-5) point of that surgery.
“Once I was actually hired to work at a job on June 21, 2015, by UniQue Personnel Consultants, a “reasonable accommodation”, would have been for me to be immediately exempt, upon my day one notice to Dana Felton of my lower back discomfort, from being deliberately assigned to any task which reproduced that initial discomfort. Being put through a July 17, 2015, public in-office performance of “jumping through the hoops” of attempting to establish the medical legitimacy of my back-pain claims by Krista Findlay-after she had just previously, on June 14, 2015, assured me that regarding having to explain my back pain issue, “it won’t happen again”, was inordinately onerous and burdensome. And it was absolutely unfair for Donna May to publicly “call me out” as a slacker, after I had been personally led to believe by Krista Findlay that the issue had been resolved.”
I also presented three personal, sealed, copies of this July 28, 2015 letter of complaint, to UniQue Personnel Consultants for delivery to UniQue Personnel Consultants employees Dana Felton, Donna May, and Krista Findlay.
I also stated in the letter that I did not know whether, or not, we were going to be able to collectively resolve our myriad of issues without formal litigation under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The “official” position of UniQue Personnel Consultants seemed, and still continues to be, one of somewhat duplicitous benign neglect.
- MY EEOC AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT FILING
On August 6, 2015, after not having received any semblance of a response, whatsoever, from UniQue Personnel Consultants to the hand-delivered, above-referenced, July 28, 2015 letter of complaint, I then filed the EEOC Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) charge #560-2015-01744, John Bumphus v. UniQue Personnel Consultants (Exhibit H) at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office at the Robert Young Federal Building in St. Louis, Missouri.
On August 12, 2015, I attended my regularly scheduled psychological medical Medicare treatment session with Dr. Baig at Wellspring Resources (now known as Cornerstone) in Alton, Illinois. I was still very much troubled by Krista Findlay’s suspicious, harmful and illegal July 17, 2015, duplicity, which had resulted in her wrongful accusatory inferring about me, that I might be guilty of potentially committing medical documentation fraud, in order to somehow illicitly obtain some sort of fraudulent reasonable accommodation in the UniQue Personnel Consultants workplace, before going on to summarily and unlawfully discharge me from gainful employment; therefore, in medical support of my mental health, along with my ongoing psychiatric treatment at Wellspring Resources (which is now known as Cornerstone), it subsequently became clear that it was once again necessary for me to additionally resume psychological counseling at that facility as well.
- MY FIRST ATTEMPTED ILLINOIS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION FILING
On August 13, 2015, I attempted to hand-deliver a Notice of my Workers’ Compensation mental-mental injury to the UniQue Personnel Consultants Glen Carbon, IL office. No one, including Krista Findlay, would formally accept the notice letter, or assist me in any way in regards to making the proper filing of my job-related Workers’ Compensation injury claim.
On August 14, 2015, I successfully hand-delivered a notice letter (Exhibit I) to the UniQue Personnel Consultants, Troy, IL Corporate front receptionist desk, for David Scheibal, a company Workers’ Compensation Specialist, which was written to officially Notice and inform him of my job-related injury, and also to point out to him that no one at the Glen Carbon office assisted me reporting my job-related injury, as was then, and still currently is, required under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act 820 ILCS 305 §6(a): Workplace Notice statute. Subsequent to leaving the Troy, Illinois, UniQue Personnel corporate office, on that same August 14, 2015 date, I then traveled to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission office in Collinsville, Illinois, where I received a copy of the “Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Handbook on Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases”, and was thereby able to download the forms for, and properly file, this injury claim # WC 027577 with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission in Chicago, Illinois, and by sending notarized copies of this August 14, 2015 filing, to UniQue Personnel’s corporate office in Troy, Illinois, and to their Workers’ Compensation Insurance provider, Synergy Coverage Solutions L.L.C.
- MY INTERVIEW BY SYNERGY COVERAGE SOLUTIONS
On August 18, 2015, at 1:43 p.m. EST, I was contacted by telephone and initially medically interviewed by Synergy Coverage Solutions L.L.C.’s Workers’ Compensation Claims Adjuster Cathy Gober, regarding my injured worker claim, until 2:33 p.m., EST. During that interview, I clearly and directly informed Ms. Gober, that I was being treated for my injury at Wellspring Resources in Alton, Illinois, which is now known as Cornerstone.
- EMERGENCY HEARING UNDER 19(b); AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE FINDINGS FOR SECTIONS 19(k), 19(l) AND SECTION 16 (FOR LAWYERS FEES)
On October 15, 2015, 90 days after my July 17, 2015 date of injury, I filed a Notice of Motion & Order, and Request for an Emergency Hearing under Section 19(b) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. An accompanying petition (Exhibit J) was also filed in the hope that I might obtain a quick ruling on obtaining my medical care and Total Temporary Disability (TTD) benefit payments.
I subsequently received the respondent UniQue Personnel Consultants October 30, 2015, reply to the above-mentioned Request for an Emergency Hearing, and found that their reply in disagreement to my Petition (Exhibit K) was that I had “failed to provide evidence of a compensable work related injury for which TTD and/or medical would be owed.”; after receiving this reply from attorney Yates-Weller, I contacted her by telephone and informed her of my August 18, 2015 conversation with Claims adjuster Cathy Gober of her client Synergy Coverage Solutions L.L.C., and yet, instead of offering me a legal explanation as to why neither the insurer, or she, as their co-counsel, had reached out to acquire the medical information from the legitimate source I had provided to ascertain the medical legitimacy of my injury, her position to me, immediately, was that I should acquire my own medical evidence of treatment and provide it to her office.
Undaunted, and still hoping to begin receiving my still-unpaid TTD benefits, I acquiesced, and on November 6, 2015 I requested, received, and subsequently hand-delivered to attorney Yates-Weller’s office at Hennessy & Roach, L.L.C., medical documentary evidence (Exhibit L) from Therapist Keely Finney, MSW, LCSW, of Wellspring Resources in Alton, Illinois, which is now known as Cornerstone, which detailed my counseling services schedule since August 12, 2015, with Ms. Finney, and also those with Psychiatrist Dr. Baig, whom I’ve been seeing over the past few years regarding my previously-acknowledged Social Security Administration Disability benefit medical treatments. I then repeatedly attempted to contact attorney Yates-Weller by phone, to no avail, until a return call she placed to me on November 19, 2015. I finally spoke personally with her on November 20, 2015, and she thereby informed me, once again, that her client was denying my claim as an injured worker.
On November 23, 2015, the plaintiff was victimized, and illegally bullied as an unrepresented, disabled, injured worker with a medical history of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in what was a jointly undertaken criminal conspiracy activity, pursuant to Section 1 B1.3(a)(1)(b) (Relevant Conduct (Factors that Determine the Guideline Range)) of the Judiciary and Judicial Procedure Standards of the United States Sentencing Commission (28 U.S.C. Section 994(a)), which was orchestrated, and perpetrated, by respondent Attorney Jennifer Katherine Yates-Weller #2795, who is of, and is a partner with Defendant Hennessy & Roach, P.C., of St. Louis, Missouri, on behalf of respondent UniQue Personnel Consultants, and also on behalf of their Workers’ Compensation insurer, Synergy Coverage Solutions L.L.C., as she knowingly created, presented, fraudulently signed and personally affirmed for Proof of Service as an attorney, two (2) forged Subpoenas Duces Tecum, under the auspices and in clear violation of Chapter II §7030.50-Subpoena Practice, 50 ILLINOIS ADMINISTRATIVE CODE, Illinois Workers’ Compensation Rules Governing Practice by U.S. Mail, to myself, to Dr. Yablonsky at Associated Physicians Group in Edwardsville, Illinois, and to Dr. Baig at Wellspring Resources in Alton, Illinois which is now known as Centerstone, in an effort to illicitly gain unauthorized access to my personal medical records, so as to attempt to avoid and delay the payment of my Illinois Workers’ Compensation benefits, and under Section §17-3. Forgery, of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, which recognizes forgery as a Class 3 felony.
Therefore, on November 24, 2015, I filed another Notice of Motion and Order, and an accompanying memorandum, with the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission, as I respectfully requested leave to amend my Petition for an Immediate Hearing Under Section 19(b) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, to include a request for a finding regarding the penalties and fees pursuant to Sections 19(k), 19(l), and Section 16 (for fees) under the same aforementioned Act.
- MY UNIQUE PERSONNEL CONSULTANTS INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEE PERSONNEL FILE
On October 20, 2015, I travelled to the Troy, Illinois, corporate headquarters office of my employer, UniQue Personnel Consultants, to personally request a copy of my employee personnel file, David Scheibal personally handed me a card, with the name, and number of (attorney) “Andy Toennies 314-436-8347”, and said to me that because “this has become a legal matter”, I should “call the number, and he (Toennies) will handle it”. I then “called the number”, and left a message from the UniQue parking lot before I left, and then made a subsequent call later that, to no avail. On the next day October 21, 2015, as of 3:10 p.m., I had yet to even receive the courtesy of a simple return phone call addressing my “legal matter” request, so I therefore felt that an official hand-delivered request, in writing, was necessary and appropriate. Therefore, on October 21, 2015, I personally presented another letter (Exhibit M) to the UniQue Personnel Consultants Workers’ Compensation Specialist, David Scheibal, at their Troy IL Corporate office, which was the initial official written request to review my complete employee personnel file, under the Illinois Employee Personnel File Access Law, 820 Ill. Comp. Stat §§40/12.
On October 24, 2015, I received by U.S. postage a response from the office of Attorney Andrew G. Toennies, from the law office of Lashly & Baer, P.C. in St. Louis, MO, which in my opinion was a woefully incomplete package of documentation. There were, at that time, five (5) missing letters which I believed to be relevant to the EEOC Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation injury litigation charges and interactions herein pending, and thereby should have been presented to me for my legal review. I also noticed that some of the documentation pertaining to actual events which had occurred was patently false; thereby, on October 26 & 27, 2015, I presented another letter (Exhibit N) to the UniQue Personnel Consultants Workers’ Compensation Specialist, David Scheibal, at their Troy, IL Corporate office which addressed, and utilized, the provision within the Illinois Employee Personnel File Access Law, 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 40/1 to 40/12, which allowed me to insert a rebuttal into my file.
On November 23, 2015, in response to a November 16, 2015, letter (Exhibit O) from Attorney Andrew G. Toennies, of Lashly & Baer, P.C., whose firm is handling UniQue Personnel Consultants’ EEOC response to my August 6, 2015, charge pertaining to being denied a reasonable accommodation, which specifically asked that I “Please send me a letter in writing stating exactly what you are looking for with regard to this matter.” I, again, respectfully requested (Exhibit P) copies of the same aforementioned documents; I also requested a copy of the doctor’s note (Exhibit F) which was received by Krista Findlay six days after my dismissal on July 23, 2015, along with a request for photocopied pages 80 & 81 of my 2014 book, “Necessary Candor” (Exhibit B), wherein I had highlighted (in yellow) the pertinent text passages in the book’s pages 80 & 81, as I clearly and directly informed her verbally, and presented her with a copy of on the day of my July 17, 2015 dismissal from employment, under my own copyright publishing ©2014 ISBN-10: #1495927784, that I am indeed a disabled individual receiving disability and psychological medical Medicare treatment and benefits from the Social Security Administration at Wellspring Resources (now known as Cornerstone) in Alton, Illinois.
On December 4, 2015, the day after I received the requested package of correspondence from the receptionist’s desk at Lashly & Baer, P.C., I wrote Attorney Toennies another request (Exhibit P) for five (5) still-missing documents.
THEREFORE, I believe it has been established that:
- I am a disabled individual receiving hospital insurance, and medical insurance coverage under Medicare.
- I was a disabled employee of UniQue Personnel Consultants on my June 21, 2015, date of hire, and I was still a disabled employee of UniQue Personnel Consultants, on my July 17, 2015, date of dismissal from employment by their Glen Carbon, Illinois, office agent and corporate spokesperson Krista Findlay.
- I was telling the truth, on July 17, 2015, as I presented valid documentary medical evidence of my 2006 spinal fusion surgery to Krista Findlay to substantiate the already existing reasonable accommodation which she had granted me on July 14, 2015.
I was also telling the truth, on July 17, 2015, when I informed Krista Findlay that I am indeed a disabled individual receiving disability and psychological medical Medicare treatment and benefits from t
- the Social Security Administration at Wellspring Resources (now known as Cornerstone) in Alton, Illinois.
- The willful refusal of Krista Findlay to acknowledge the valid, presented medical documentary evidence of my 2006 spinal fusion surgery, along with her failure and refusal to, directly against written and established UniQue Personnel Consultants company policy, acknowledge the reality and legal status of my disability, while arbitrarily and capriciously totally dismissing me from gainful employment, has absolutely exacerbated my already existing mental health disability, to the point of a further compensable Workers’ Compensation injury having now actually occurred.
PROPOSALS FOR ARBITRATOR’S DECISIONS
Because I have already, as an unrepresented injured worker, respectfully requested leave to amend my Petition for an Immediate Hearing Under Section 19(b) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, and subsequently amended it, to include an additional request for a finding in my favor regarding the penalties and fees pursuant to Sections 19(k), 19(l), and Section 16 (for fees) under the same aforementioned Act, I shall now herein also respectfully request, that all the matters pertaining to these standing 23
0cumulative legal issues be summarily resolved, without any further and unnecessary deliberation.
Thank you for your consideration.
CC: Attorney Jennifer Yates Weller #2795, Hennessy & Roach, P.C., Attorneys at Law, 415 North 10th Street, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63101.