Illinois has decided to make Workers Compensation benefits more difficult for those who may be inebriated on the job. The state has passed the "Presumptive Denial Law." Which means if you test positive for drugs or alcohol you are denied your workers compensation benefits. The State's Governor is expected to sign this legislation, which would take effect September 1st.
According to the new statute, it must be demonstrated that intoxication is indeed the "proximate cause" of the worker's injuries or that the employee was "so intoxicated at the time of the injury that the intoxication was a departure from employment."
The new law will maintain that any employee testing positive for alcohol in excess of 0.08 BAC or for any other unauthorized drug use will be presumed intoxicated and that intoxication will be presumed to be the proximate cause of the injuries. No workers comp benefits.
Drug and alcohol testing must be conducted according to the National Labor Relations Board or Department of Transportation guidelines. If the employee refuses to take the test, he is presumed guilty of being inebriated on the job. The employee has the right to appeal. If he has a prescription for the drugs that may have caused the inebriation, then he must present it in his defense. He can try to demonstrate that being inebriated alone was not the sole cause of the injury.
Some might find this a bit draconian. I don't. If a worker is inebriated on the job and hurts himself then why, exactly, should he be accorded workers compensation benefit? As one who, years ago, was head of marketing for an investigative firm who specialized in workers compensation investigations for the County of Los Angeles and various private corporate entities, there is no end to the scams employees had created in order to gain workers comp benefits. Being stoned or drunk on the job shouldn't be among them.
Among other presentation tools, our investigation group used to run sub-rosa "highlight" segments of various employees on workers comp. Here the poor souls who couldn't raise their arms above their shoulders, bend over, pick up anything that weighed more than a couple of pounds, were carrying sofas, lifting trees, having a merry time on the insurer's dime. Our concealed camera tapings of them drinking or smoking pot were not, let's say, exotic rarities in our video footage.
I believe Illinois is doing the smart thing by denying workers compensation benefits to the chronically inebriated who claim to be hurt on their job. Personal responsibility has to start somewhere. Even in a world where everyone gets a trophy, someone has to be accountable. More states should adopt this policy.