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Friday, October 28, 2016

Florida worker's comp laws ignore Pulse's struggling first responders

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 11:31 AM

  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Law enforcement officers who heeded their call to duty at the horrific scene at Pulse nightclub on June 12 are suffering from the state law that does not allow them to seek lost wages for mental health diagnoses.

As WMFE reported back in September, workers must be able to prove their disability stems from a physical injury to be eligible for lost wages in the state of Florida.

First Responder Gerry Realin, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the massacre, was provided with some worker's compensation only after developing high blood pressure from his PTSD, indicated by persisting nightmares and insomnia.

Orlando Police Department deputy chief Orlando Rolon has stated that some officers are receiving paid time off, but that it's hard for some to reconcile that with the nature of the job's demands.

The New York Times reported yesterday that officer Omar Delgado, who spent hours inside the club trying to help hostages, has lost about $1000 in overtime pay - a common way for officers to up their paychecks - leading to him not being able to retrieve his car from a towing service.

Officers are also not eligible for many of the post-shooting victim funds.

“There is simply no way we can satisfy the legitimate credible claims of everybody who might file,” OneOrlando Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg told the Times.

Realin's and his attorney, Paolo Longo, are challenging the law's constitutionality during the 2017 Florida Legislative Session, hoping to at least change it for first responders.

“The law as it stands is bad. It’s not a department issue. It’s not an Orlando Police Department issue. It’s a Florida statute issue," Longo told WMFE.

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