For instance, if a QME report is not clear about an employee's ability to perform his job duties, seek clarification from the QME doctor or from another doctor, such as that employee's primary care physician. A typical misunderstanding arises when an employer, who receives a QME report that states that the employee cannot bend and kneel, assumes that the same employee is in such a bad shape that he is completely unable to work, and therefore can be terminated. This is obviously not true if the employee's job duties do not require much or any kneeling or bending. This type of unfrounded assumption based on an incorrect reading of QME can be the cause of wrongful terminating a worker and violating his disability rights.
As Eastern District Court of California recently observed in one of their court rulings "an employer's blind adherence to the QME report ignores substantial evidence to the contrary". The court held that evidence of an employee's ability to continue performing his job duties despite his ambiguous QME, his other doctors opinions about his ability to perform his typical job duties, and the employee's own testimony about the fact that he can handle his work just fine must be taken into account when making a determination regarding that worker's return to work. The court asked a number of questions in its opinion which reflect on the mistakes made by the employer in that case: "The obvious question becomes why Defendant rushed to judgment on the basis
of an equivocal statement by a workers’ compensation evaluator10 that was contradicted not only by Plaintiff’s own treating providers but by Plaintiff’s own demonstrated ability to do the job. Why did Defendant terminate Plaintiff without any further inquiry, without talking to Plaintiff himself about whether he could do the job, and after only a small number of relatively short phone calls?" - These types of questions should serve as an important reminder to employers about how to correctly assess an injured worker's ability to return work, but looking at the whole picture, rather than only some evidence of an employee's medical condition.