Think the job of a finance clerk seems like a fairly safe one, in terms of potential for injury? Think again.
An Illinois prison finance clerk has filed $128,424 in workers' compensation claims to date because of pain her neck and shoulder. She claims the pain worsened from holding the phone in the crook of her neck for hours at a time while typing — because her bosses allegedly denied her request for a headset. A headset costs $9.96 at the Walmart closest to the prison, noted The Belleville News-Democrat, which first reported the story.
Angela Grott, who’s been working at Illinois’ Menard Correctional Center since 1989, also complained that that the file drawers at her workstation jammed, the computer keyboard was set too high, and her chair was hard to move. But the major problem was the lack of headset, she testified in a December hearing. On Aug. 10, 2010, she suffered a massive disc herniation, which required surgery to fix.
The surgeon who operated on Grott testified she had “a pre-existing disc degeneration that was aggravated” by holding the phone in an awkward manner. (Illinois law allows claimants to file for benefits for pre-existing conditions as long as they can show work aggravated the situation.) The surgeon also said that holding the phone in the crook of her neck for hours likely “caused her to have a massive disc herniation on top of the disc degeneration.”
In May 2008, a year into her current position, Grott was named employee of the month. “She is an excellent employee who never complains,” read the citation.
Sharyn Elman, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Corrections, told the News-Democrat: "We are in the process of obtaining headsets for those staff members who requested them. This has to go through the procurement process and we should be getting them soon."
Noted the newspaper in an editorial: “A smart supervisor would have acted immediately when Grott complained that her working conditions were causing physical pain.”
Inc. contributing editor COURTNEY RUBIN was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.