Back in the Saddle
Emily reviewed the fifth workers' compensation claim submitted by Dakota Hornsby during his two-year tenure with the company. "Gosh, I could probably set my clock by this guy," she groaned.
Dakota was one of the company's custodians. His first claim involved a back injury sustained while replacing a light bulb in a ceiling fixture. Dakota indicated that the twisting and stretching motion pulled his back. He was off for two weeks and then placed on light duty for the next two weeks. Three or four months later, he claimed he hurt his back while tightening some bolts in the boiler room. That time he was off for four weeks. All his claims involved soft-tissue, lower-back pain, which were certified by a physician.
It seemed that every three or four months Dakota would injure himself and require a period of recuperation. Emily realized that she had little alternative but to process his claim. This time Dakota allegedly pulled his back while painting the ceiling and required three weeks off for bed rest and light activity.
About a week later, one of Dakota's fellow custodians, Miller Hanson, knocked on her door.
"Excuse me, Emily, could I see you for a moment?" Miller asked.
"Sure, come in," Emily said. "How can I help you?"
There was a long pause. Emily waited patiently and then finally asked, "Is something wrong, Miller?"
"Well, I just don't think it's right," Miller began.
Emily continued to smile and nod her head, encouraging him to
express his concern. Again, Miller grew silent.
"Miller, whatever it is, I'll try to help you. What don't you think is right?" asked Emily.
"I hate being a snitch, but I think Dakota's been sandbagging you about his back injuries," Miller informed her contemptuously. "I don't think it's fair that the company has to pay for his recreation."
"I've pretty much known that all along, but just try to prove it," Emily thought bitterly. Then she addressed Miller, "What makes you think he's 'sandbagging' us, Miller?"
"Well," Miller replied, "he was telling all the fellows that he was getting ready to ride in a rodeo next week. And Emily, I can lay you odds he won't be flat on his back at home. I'll bet you you'll find him up there riding and doing it on the company's nickel. It must be nice to get extra paid vacation."
Emily knew she shouldn't jump to conclusions, but this was wonderful news. She tried to contain her excitement. "I see," she responded with perfect composure. "Do you happen to know the name of the rodeo and where it's going to be held?"
"I'm not exactly sure," Miller responded. "But I know he belongs to some association that plans all these events. It shouldn't be too hard to find out. I just don't want him to know it was me that told you."
"I'm not sure I can promise you that. If what you say is true, we may end up in a legal battle over this. If that's the case and I'm deposed by his attorney, I may have to tell them if I'm asked," Emily said earnestly. "I can promise you this: I won't volunteer my source."
"Well, what's wrong is wrong," Miller said. "I guess if he finds out it was me, then he does."
Emily thanked Miller and began her investigation. She called security and briefed them on Miller's allegations. They located the city and date of the upcoming event and drove to the site armed with a video camera. Sure enough, as Miller had predicted, Dakota was there, listed in the program as Rider Number 23.
The security officers enjoyed the rodeo and waited anxiously for Dakota's appearance. As soon as the announcer called for Rider Number 23, the security officer started taping. Moments later, Dakota broke out of the chute atop the black stallion, Wild Diablo. The security officer got excellent footage of Dakota spurring the horse and clinging to the rope, while the bucking bronco tossed him wildly about. As Dakota held for his eight-second ride, the security officer zoomed in on his face and panned to his body. Finally, he captured the number 23 pinned to Dakota's back. The officers found it equally gratifying to obtain the extra footage of Dakota grinning ear to ear as he received the trophy for third place.
Emily was ecstatic when she viewed the footage. To see how Dakota responded, click here
Excerpted from Sex, Laws, & Stereotypes, by N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.©