The Chicago Employment Law Blog

City Hall Cracking Down On Workers Comp Fraud

A 2006 Chicago Sun-Times investigation into workers compensation abuses by city workers, exposing workers who appeared to be faking injuries, eventually led to federal subpoenas. Now, City Hall is imposing tough new enforcement mechanisms to ensure its employees are not taking advantage of the system, yesterday's Sun-Times reported.

If you have been injured and believe the system is taking advantage of you, that's a different story altogether and you might want to call an Illinois workers compensation attorney.

Beginning the week of April 12, each city department will assign a manager to keep watch over injured workers; making sure they visit doctors, go to rehab if necessary and follow treatment guidelines. Monthly status reports will give officials better visibility into each injured employee's physical condition.

Those who are still injured but nevertheless able to work "less-taxing" jobs will be put back to work. And those unable to return to work will have to show proof that they have conducted 10 job searches each week.

The Sun-Times investigation four years ago found that 20 percent of city workers with political clout, or so-called "patronage workers," filed at least one worker's compensation claim during their tenure with the city. Neither article gave a percentage of the typical rate of Illinois workers who file claims, only to say that it "far exceeds any occupation tracked by the US Dept. of Labor."

High rates of workers compensation claims typically indicate dangerous jobs, such as roofing or coal mining, leading reporters to say (with tongue in cheek) that patronage work is "one of the most dangerous jobs in America."

When asked why Chicago City Hall is just now stepping up enforcement, Budget Director Eugene Munin told reporters subtle changes were made earlier that didn't receive as much attention:

"We have a standardized tracking system we didn't have before. We now have a manager [keeping tabs] in each department. ... But, I don't think it's fair to say we haven't been doing anything about this."

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