Wiregrass Newsroom: Dothan Discusses Workers Compensation Policy

By Daniel Curtis - bio | email

Dothan, Ala. (WSFA) -- Day in and day out all of Dothan's 1200 city workers face dangers on the job, especially first responders like police and fire.

During Tuesday's city commission meeting, city leaders looked for ways to help those workers who are injured at work.

In March two Dothan police officers were shot and wounded in an attempted armed robbery.

Just two weeks ago a firefighter was injured while fighting a fire.

These incidents have some city commissioners asking how the city can provide better compensation for injured workers.

"I still think there is a bit of an ethical concern here, that anyone who is going forward and doing hazardous duty on behalf of the citizens who is then injured should not have to suffer financially because of that," said Keith Seagle, District 6 Commissioner.

Currently, an injured employee receives %66 and 2/3 of his or her normal salary through workers compensation, all un-taxed.

That figure is roughly equal to their normal, taxed wages.  However, while off the job an employee doesn't receive time or money toward retirement.

"I'm for the city of Dothan looking into that seeing if we can't get with the chiefs of police and chiefs of fire departments and sponsor a legislation to change that law in the state," said Seagle.

The commission and first responders say they understand the concerns, however with compensation being a state issue it's currently out of their control.

"I don't think it's anything intentional, I think it's something that will come to light and it just needs to be tweaked in the system," said John Powell, Dothan's Chief of Police.

City leaders say for now they will explore working with non-profit organizations and possibly adding extra insurance to provide additional funds for injured workers.

Commissioners also stressed that if they make changes to compensation that they need to make those changes across the board for all city employees.