Police officer's steroid use, defiance merit termination of benefits
Case name: Rodriguez v. City of South Miami, 19 FLWCLB 157 (Fla. JCC, Miami 2012).
Ruling: A Florida Judge of Compensation Claims denied an officer's petition for temporary partial disability benefits because he was terminated for misconduct.
What it means: In Florida, a worker's termination based on misconduct suspends his right to TPD benefits.
Summary: A police officer for a city injured his neck and back in a work-related motor vehicle accident. The city and its carrier accepted compensability for the accident and authorized treatment for his cervical and lumbar spine. However, he was terminated shortly after the accident based on a positive drug test for steroids and insubordination toward two supervisors. The city suspended temporary partial disability benefits, contending that his termination constituted misconduct. The JCC agreed and denied the officer's petition for TPD benefits.
The officer submitted to reasonable suspicion drug testing and tested positive for steroids. The officer was contacted by the testing facility to discuss the results. He initially refused to speak with the testing facility, claiming falsely that he was in a meeting and unavailable. The test results could not be made available to the city until the officer spoke with the testing facility. Two of his superior officers ordered him to contact the testing facility. He refused and was openly defiant. He feigned as though he could not hear the orders despite the officers repeating themselves. He eventually contacted the testing facility.
The JCC determined that the officer's consumption of a controlled substance was wrongful and a product of his intentional disregard of a significant duty and obligation to the city. The JCC found his activity and behavior constituted misconduct during his postinjury employment.
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January 18, 2013
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