Rosa Rodriguez has worked at Pomona for 13 years as a housekeeper. During this time, she has been a dedicated and passionate worker, vital to the experience of students, faculty and other staff.
Since last spring, however, when Rosa went on workers’ comp due to a job-related injury, her commitment to the College has not been repaid. She was repeatedly required to do more work than allowed under safety procedures, and prior to her most recent injury, she had already suffered injuries to her shoulder and knee in the preceding five years. This time, a doctor determined that Rosa was permanently disabled and thus unable to return to work. Rosa then had to seek disability payments in order to support herself while at the same time fighting to get a second opinion so she could get her job back.
Last summer, Rosa contacted Workers Support Committee. After hearing her story and meeting with multiple administrators, we determined that there was a lack of effective communication between the CUC Disability Office, the College, and injured workers. Admittedly, the College is caught in a thicket of legal regulations in this situation, but it must be more proactive about working with injured staff persons to navigate this complex system.
After Rosa received a termination notice, we brought our concerns to Pres. Oxtoby and others administrators at the end of the fall semester. It was agreed that some further examination of these issues was needed and Rosa was given time to obtain a second medical opinion.
After multiple referrals and appointments, Rosa received another doctor’s opinion that cleared her of all work restrictions at the end of March, about a month ago. However, this occurred just after the College’s self-imposed one-year deadline for resolving all such cases. Thus Rosa was given a final termination notice. She has since been unable to meet with College administrators.
Rosa was not made aware that doctor from whom she sought a second opinion was unable to overrule the previous doctor’s disability ruling. She was also told to fire her workers’ comp lawyer before returning to work.
It is the opinion of Workers’ Support Committee that Rosa has been neglected by an overly complex bureaucracy at the college and other levels. We believe it is in the best interest of the college to work with Rosa to secure her continued employment and we call on Pomona to do so immediately. Rosa has worked at Pomona for many years and her overriding goal is to return to work. Her case illustrates what are systemic problems of communication with and visibility of workers on campus. We are hopeful that all parties can work to resolve this pressing issue.
Nick Gerber PO ’10
Workers’ Support Committee