A common story
A woman who works in a processing plant developed persistent pain in her knee. She kept working as long as she could but finally had to go to management and explain that she did not want to quit but that she had too much pain to do the work she was doing. A manager brought her into his office and told her to sign a form before going to the company doctor. She told the manager that she would need to take the form home and have a family member whose English was better read it. The manager told her to sign it then and there or be fired. The woman, already irritated by the constant pain she had endured for several weeks, did not think this was fair. She explained that she would bring the form back in the morning but that she needed to have a family member read it and explain it to her. The angry manager verbally abused her and fired her in the office and she left the plant.However, she still had an appointment with the company doctor and so she went to it. The doctor agreed that she seemed to have pain in her knee, took an x-ray, had a few tests done, gave her some pain pills, and made another appointment for her. At the next appointment, the company doctor asked if she was any better and she said she wasn’t. He explained to her that she had pain in her knee and gave her some more pills.The woman, who neither drinks, smokes or takes drugs, did not like the effects of the pills and quit using them.When she applied for unemployment benefits, Unemployment told her that something was wrong with her paperwork and she did not get unemployment. Later, she applied for Workmen’s Comp and was told a similar tale. When she went to see another doctor, weeks after she had been fired, she was told that she appeared to have pain in her knee but that he could not do much about it because she was seeing the company doctor.After several weeks, doctors telling her she had pain and no money coming in, a strange thing happened: managers from the company that had fired her began calling her and telling her she had not been fired at all and inviting her to return to work as soon as she could at a job that would not require her to lift anything and would pay $2.50 less an hour. She resisted for a week or two more, but, the company having effectively blocked her legal rights to insurance and compensation that she pays for out of every check, she returned to work, despite her pain, to make some money. Jobs don’t grow on trees, she said.She worked for the rest of the season with persistent pain in her knee at the reduced wage. While working, she noticed that almost all the workers in the plant were complaining about how the management seemed to be growing more tyrannical by the week, threatening people with firings for the least infractions, and actually firing employees that had worked there for several years and replacing them with minimum-wage employees. She also heard complaints about people with chronic pain and injuries, afraid to say anything about it to managers for fear of being fired, harassed and going through the same business she’d been through.As unemployment increases, the more common this story will become.