How workers compensation works

Photo by Nick Youngson, The Blue Diamond Gallery (http://thebluediamondgallery.com/legal/workers-compensation-law.html).

When employees become injured or ill due to their work environment, they are entitled to workers compensation. This system reimburses Stamford Public Schools staff members for any injuries attained or aggravated on the job. In recent months, many teachers have filed for workers compensation due to mold related illnesses.

According to a PowerPoint made by Stamford Public Schools, “the injury can be caused by the work injury but also, the work injury could exacerbate or aggravate an otherwise non-work related pre-existing condition. As long as the work injury is a substantial factor in the need for treatment, it qualifies as a work-related injury.”

Teachers who are ill due to mold fully qualify for workers compensation, and will be able to return to school when their classrooms are cleared of mold.

Mr. Wooley, an English teacher, and advisor for The Westword, was previously out due to mold exposure, has filed for compensation.

“I have already filed for workers compensation. The process is that we report our illness to our direct supervisor and they begin the paperwork for a workers comp claim. Then we go to one of the locations to get tested for mold exposure. In order to continue the process, we need to send a form 30C to the Stamford Workers Compensation office and the city clerk. We then receive a form from the company that handles the claims for the city that provides us with a claim number so that we can get medical treatment covered without having to pay out of pocket or through our personal insurance,” Wooley said.

Although the school is currently undergoing mold remediation, many teachers have been out of school for elongated periods of time with varying levels of illness, some more severe than others.

“If teachers are getting sick, they should be able to take a leave of absence without worrying about money,” Maggie Fritz (’19) said.

Mr. Celcis, an English teacher, is also out with critical effects from the mold.

“I have been in that building since 2001. It is no longer a matter of ‘clean that room and Celcis can come back,’ he has to get well enough to come back and work. I’ve just started the treatment that makes me sicker than I am because they inject me with small doses of mold to build my immunity, the same way someone with allergies will be given small doses of allergens to build immunity,” Wooley continued.

Stephen Morelli, the Chairman of Workers Compensation Commission, told The Westword that they do not finalize injury severity, they only reimburse.

“The Commission cannot determine what injuries are related to mold, unless the claims are contested and come before a hearing. A claim filed with a cause of injury as ‘Misc – Absorb, Ingest, Inhale’ and the nature of injury as ‘no physical injury’ may be caused by mold, but they could also be caused by other factors,” Morelli said.

Some students feel the sicknesses that teachers are suffering from are not being taken seriously enough.

“Not all of us understand how bad their injuries are or what they [are] going through,” Daniella Ceballos (’20) said.

The remediation that has taken place before and during winter break should hopefully allow these teachers who have been out on workers compensation to return.

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