Q: My question is about worker's compensation.
Over the last few years I've been injured at work 3 times and filed a workers comp claim for 2 of them (first and third). For those 2, my boss had me cancel each claim and say that I didn't need the benefits anymore. He wanted me to do this so his number of processed claims and insurance premiums wouldn't go up. He told me that if I cancelled the claims he would help me financially, as well as help with medical bills. I agreed to this because I've known the family for many, many years and I didn't want to hurt the company in any way. I figured it was 2 friends just helping eachother out. Over the weeks I was unable to work due to each injury he did indeed cut me a check to help me along. However, I have recently found a new place of employment. I gave a 2 week notice and tomorrow is my last day, but he is now telling me I need to pay him back that money that he "loaned" me and is holding my last 2 paychecks as repayment. Is there anything I can do, or did I paint myself into a corner?
A: You are entitled to your last two paychecks.
Although it is not entirely clear that an agreement to waive workers compensation claims is enforceable, that is what your employer entered into. Specifically, your employer agreed to pay for (some) wages and medical costs if you did not file a workers compensation claim. You both performed the agreement. Your employer cannot later unilaterally change an agreement to pay for the costs of your injury into a loan.
Your main problem is that your employer possesses your pay check and possession is 9/10ths of the law. However, an Ohio law, ORC 4113.15, http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4113.15, can help. It adds $200 to the amount of unpaid wages that you can recover. Ohio also allows you to pursue this claim in small claims court, which is part of your municipal court.
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