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Hillman v Costco Wholesale Corp. Inc
Northern District III
State of Illinois
Hillman, a part time employee at Costco, had an on the job injury in February of 2010 while pushing carts from the parking lot into the store during a snowstorm. He was issued work restrictions from his physician including no exposure to extreme temperatures and no excessive standing and walking, related to his diagnosis of polyneuropathy and labral tears. Costco did place Hillman in an alternate job (Major Sales Assistant) and accommodated him in that job. The accommodation allowed him to sit as needed to alleviate his polyneuropathy related discomfort.
Within a month Hillman was given a leave of absence that lasted close to a year. After that, due to lack of job availability, his leave was extended as an accommodation. Costco sent him job descriptions as they became available to review for possible placement. Per Costco policy, Hillman was instructed to respond within 3 days if he was interested in the job. Eventually, Hillman learned that the Major Sales Assistant job he had briefly held before was available. Hillman stated he tried on several occasions to contact Costco's management to make them aware of his interest. Through apparent miscommunications with Costco management, Hillman was unable to let management know he was interested in the position. He was not placed in the job and was notified via letter in July of 2011 that he had been terminated from employment.
Hillman filed suit alleging failure to accommodate based on Costco's previous placement of him in the Major Sales Assistant position. Costco argued that the job included employees having to, "be on their feet all day, stock merchandise on shelves and helping Costco members lift heavy items". Based on the precedent of Costco having him perform the job previously with accommodation provided, the US District Court of the Northern Division of Illinois denied summary judgment to Costco based on Hillman's ADA Title 1 claim. This allowed Hillman to proceed with his case to a jury trial. This case was scheduled to go to trial March of 2015. As of May 2015, this case has not been decided.
The time lag of nearly one year before addressing returning Hillman to work could have been managed with a policy to use Job Function Matching at the onset and throughout this workers' compensation case. Were job specific physical demands measured? Did his medical doctor ever receive information about Hillman's ability to perform job functions? Was Hillman ever tested to the job before the decision was made to terminate him?
The availability of objective job information aides the employer and employee in knowing if the worker can safely perform the functions of the job as well as decisively knowing if the job could have been reasonably accommodated. The use of Job Function Testing and Matching, in this situation, could have allowed Costco to perform its due diligence and possibly have satisfied Hillman's desire to return to work. With matching Hillman to this job based on the physical demands it required, it is possible the expense and duration of this lawsuit could have been avoided.
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Research UpdateFunctional Capacity Evaluation: Performance of Patients with Chronic Non-specific Low Back Pain Without Waddell Signs.
The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the effect of Waddell signs (WS) on Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain (CNSLBP) undergoing fitness for work evaluation. If an effect is observed, the secondary objective is to report performance of patients without WS in a standardized 1 day FCE protocol.
Survey of patients with CNSLBP as their primary complaint, referred for fitness for work evaluation, age between 20 and 60 years. Main outcome measures were WS and performance during manual handling assessed with lifting from floor to waist, waist to crown, horizontal and one handed carry; grip strength with Jamar hand held Dynamometer; ambulation with stair climbing and six minute walking test; work postures with elevated work, forward bend standing, kneeling, and sitting.
145 male with a mean age of 44.5 years (±10.1), and 53 females with a mean age of 43.6 years (±11.0) were included. Mean days off work were in male 658 (±1,056) and in female 642 (±886). 33% of all patients presented positive WS. FCE performance in male and female patients with positive and negative WS differed significantly in all comparisons except grip strength of the dominant hand and sitting in female. Performance of patients with negative WS indicated a mean physical capacity corresponding to light medium work in females and medium work in males for both age groups.
WS should be assessed for interpretation of FCE results. Despite long work absence, patients with CNSLBP with negative WS demonstrated a physical capacity corresponding to substantial physical work demands.
The study findings indicate that functional capacity scores are substantially higher when Waddell signs are negative. A question to ask is whether these patients had better return-to -work outcomes compared to those with positive Waddell Signs. Another question is whether there is a correlation between positive Waddell Signs and inconsistency of performance. In order for RTW outcomes to be positive, return to work interventions for patients with positive Waddell signs likely need to be different than for those with negative signs. Further investigation is needed to determent interventions that could lead to better outcomes.
DSI's Job Matching® Software
This cloud based software program facilitates the development of:
Major advancements are seamless use of job analysis information to populate the DSI Job Function Descriptions > Test > Job Matching and Ergonomic report. ADAAA compliance is high as there the testing is developed directly from the job description in essential function format. The DSI Job Function Matching format also facilitates reasonable accommodation information to be aligned directly with specific tasks.
To learn more about DSI's Job Function Matching® system and to join our growing list of new software users, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 270.245.1000.
September 11-13: Training: DSI Job Function Matching and FCA: Stevens Point, WI - FULL
September 18-20: Training: DSI Job Function Matching and FCA: Rochester, NY - OPEN
October 23 - 27: Training: DSI Job Function Matching and Patient Handling: Bismarck, ND - OPEN
November 11-14: DSI Exhibiting at PPS Annual Conference: Orlando, FL
November 17-20: Curt DeWeese and faculty member Scott Ege are speaking at National Ergonomics Conference & Expo: Las Vegas, NV
December 11-13: Training: DSI Job Function Matching and FCA: Bowling Green, KY - OPEN