Sonic Worker Injured During Robbery Denied Benefits Claim

Michael Lartique Wayne Sonic worker broken legBy Susanna Kim

An employee of a Sonic drive-in restaurant in the Houston area claims he was denied health coverage for a broken leg he received when the restaurant was robbed. Michael Lartique Wayne Jr., 25, worked for Sonic for 2½ years when the restaurant in Humble, Texas, was robbed by two men last month.

Lartique Wayne said that one of the robbers pulled his leg through a door to keep him from moving to protect a co-worker. "The next thing I know my leg was just swelling," Lartique told ABC affiliate KTRK in Houston.

The robbers got away with $200 in cash and left him with a broken femur, which may need surgery. The problem is Lartique Wayne doesn't have health insurance and Sonic has opted out of the state's workers comp plan, KTRK reported.

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Through Sonic's workers comp plan, Lartique Wayne's claim was denied because he failed a mandatory drug screen. He said that he smoked marijuana a few days before the robbery, and that showed up in a mandated drug test after the robbery took place. He said he wasn't under the influence when the robbery took place and he had nothing to do with it.

Sonic said that the company has been trying to reach him, but he has not returned calls. Lartique Wayne said that he hasn't heard from the company since the week after the robbery, and his mother may have spoken with an attorney.

"While not possible under the plan, our franchisee, because they care about their employees, is open to paying medical bills for Michael," said Patrick Lenow, vice president over public relations at Sonic, in a statement. "Repeated calls to speak with Michael, to assist in the investigation, have not been returned. Michael has retained an attorney and this may be why he has not communicated with the franchisee. We continue to have hope that this can be resolved."

In the meantime, Lartique Wayne is stuck in a cast and he doesn't have an income. He said that he can't put pressure on his leg, which still causes him pain. "I'm trying to get my leg working to look for a better job," he said.

When asked what kind of job he was looking for, he said "something that's not fast food."

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This whole story does not make sense. He failed a mandatory drug but was not fired. Sonic has no workman's comp insurance but does have liability insurance. I don't know whether or not Sonic has franchisees but when you are an individual owner, I believe when you have under so many employees you are exempt from having workman's comp. Anyway, Sonic has agreed to pay for surgery but it looks to me that this boy's family are trying to get MONEY!

May 29 2013 at 3:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You people really need to get a serious life. This guy failed a drug test. What don't you understand about failing a drug test. I only wish that they would have to take a drug test before they pick up their food stamps. There are rules and laws and you people want to give everyone a free pass while the rest of us pay for this crap. I like drug tests. If you fail - you are out. Sounds pretty simple to me.

May 28 2013 at 10:30 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kentusm's comment

Sounds simple but doesn't add up. State of Florida tried drug testing for food stamps. It caught 3% of recipients and not only didn't save money, but cost taxpayers millions. Also, some states have legalized use of Marijuana. Furthermore, drug tests are horribly inaccurate. I know, my work unit was tested for 25 years. The only positive results were disproven by costly, accurate retesting. There are reaction tests that are more appropriate and can weed out really dangerous people, like the sleep deprived.

May 29 2013 at 6:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Workman's Compensation commits 90% of WC Fraud.No state or Federal agency enforces the fraud.A worker commits fraud and they go to Jail.Company Doctors always minimizes all injuries and returns workers to the company's on light duty when 80% are injured so badly they should be at home and not sitting at the company.Also Company Doctors are instructed to not prescribe medication to injured workers because when they prescribe medication the company has a recordable accident.I feel face first 12 feet onto a concrete floor busting my head open,knocking teeth out,breaking my jaw,deaf in right ear,Brain swelling from concussion,broken ribs,compressed disk in my neck pinching nerves,right arm immobile,right leg swollen and cartridge busted in my knee cap along with torn ligaments in my hip.I can't smell or taste any more nor rember things or make decisions.I damaged my frontal lobe.My left eye is blurry vision and double vision at times along with vertigo.That was 2011.Company Doctor said I had Arthritis.Every referral to other company Doctors was denied for surgery and physical therapy. The company also had hidden my accident for months.I finally hired a Lawyer but have only now started getting teeth put back in my mouth.My state has picked it up and starting my needed surgeries.The State is going to make WC pay for medical the company should have done 2 years ago.But I am still fighting WC trying to get them to follow the law.I have no weekly checks,no reimbursement for mileage or medication.WC insurance Adjusters and company's should be held to the same laws as the crooks they are.I was fired when the company was forced to report my accident.It's a shame workers have to hire a Attorney to make WC follow the law.P.S they want you to give up by starving you.When my ordeal is finished I am going to write a book about those crooks.Also I had nerves hanging from my broken teeth was sent to a company Dentist.WC adjuster told the Dentist he only wants pain pills and me standing there with 16 broken busted teeth.WC and there panel of Doctors have sold there souls for the all mighty Dollar!

May 28 2013 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sounds like sonic reread their policy realized they were in the wrong, hence the irreprehensible restitution. If Sonic is like other mogul companies who have the same jargon and rules in their employee handbook, it seems that they breached this young man's privacy unlawfully, thus breaking their own policy. In simple terms, they obtained a mandatory drug test due to the robbery only for the sole reason to prove that he was not responsible for the injury. Since it was a robbery, the injury was obviously incurred to no fault of his own and under unforseen and uncontrolled circumstances, hence robbery, to no fault of his own as well. Since they used this drug screen to injur the employee in question, i.e. keep benefits away, termination (which is wrongful under this path of thought), it is not only illegal, but a breach of the employee's privacy. In other words, the drug test wasn't done because of suspect of doing drugs at work and or being on drugs at work, it was a mandatory drug screen to prove he had no doing in the robbery. So therefore Sonic, PAYUP! Hope this helps you little man, but lay off the marijuana.

May 28 2013 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Goose's comment
Rock Ranger

I think what you are struggling to say is that Lartique Wayne's privacy was invaded. Breach is a word for broken contracts, laws or whales breaking the surface of the ocean's water. Nonetheless, Lartique Wayne had no presumption of privacy because his employment contract most likely said drug tests can be administered at the employer's discretion. Behavior evoking the question of illicit substance use certainly prompts most employers to require their employee to submit to a drug test.

While it is admirable you wish to advocate for "the little guy", your rambling missive reveals you know little about labor law, employment contracts or tort law. It would seem the employer was attempting to make a case for contributory negligence on the part of the employee. If he acted on the job while under the influence of a controlled substance, his actions would have not complied with the reasonable expectations that employers have for their sober/straight employees and they could have made a case for mitigating financial responsibility for his injuries.

But this all may be moot: the employer has offered to assist defraying the medical costs for treating Lartique Wayne's leg. That there is no response to Sonic's overtures of payment suggests some grandstanding ploy is in the works. Perhaps we'll soon hear from some national figure about yet another Giant Corporation exploiting the oppressed., or some such. When will personal responsibility become factored into individual's conduct while at the workplace? Smoking dope is not foremost among persons seeking to be taken seriously by their employers.

May 28 2013 at 6:19 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

It sounds like Sonic is trying to reach him to help him, but he would rather create a dramatic story and get an attorney. I guess it makes a better story.

May 28 2013 at 2:51 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to engineherder's comment

Don't believe big business. what's the saying, beware of those bearing gifts... Sonic is wrong here, they are just trying to make restitution for something they know they did wrong. Here it is in a nutshell. The young man's privacy has been breached. If Sonics employee handbook is like the rest of Big Business handbooks, they went against their own policy. They obtained a drug test strictly to see if the employee had anything to do with why he got his leg hurt. Obviously he didn't , it was unforseen circumstances to no fault of his own, hence the robbery. By using the drug screen information other than that purpose, is illegal and thus allowing him access to his health benefits and retaining his employment with sonic. If Sonic fired him because of the marijuana, they obtained that informaiont illegally. The drug screen was only for the wellfare of the employee in light of the robbery and not for suspect of using drugs. Also his health benefits should have not been held from him. Lawyer jargon... and that's why Big Business uses that type of jargon, because if you don't know the law, you pretty much don't know your rights.

May 28 2013 at 4:54 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Fast Food and Convenience Stores/Business's are not well known for pay and benefits packages of any sort, but "we" thousands of citizens, daily, use these "Places" and purchase their goods, when's the last time anyone had the courtesy to tell and employee(s) sincerely "Thank You Very Much for Your Service and Working There?" How many even think about helping them out what they are over-whelmed with rush hour crowds, by picking up or cleaning up around the drink or coffee counters, dropped napkins and straws all over the floor etc.? The percentage is so pathetically few, its sickening. It's the; "oh, that's not my job," I'm too busy(caught up in my own self-absorbed interest)," "if they don't ljke it, they should find a different job(imagine if each and everyone of those people quit today, the nation would be near crippled)," etc. Some Serious "Food- For-Thought" People. Pitch-in, Help Out, Act Like a Nation of People Whom Once Had: I N T E G R I T Y. It's "we" the people whom are "our' Brothers and Sisters Keepers. Put your shopping carts in the rack too. This disabled vet, does all he can to help these folks out and leave tips when possible too.

March 01 2013 at 11:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Obviously there benefits are as good as there food.

March 01 2013 at 9:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

No good deed goes unpunished.

March 01 2013 at 9:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

idiotic workmans comp applies to everyone check your facts.

March 01 2013 at 8:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They are legally obligated to pay him benifits and medical bills no matter what even if the injured worker´s negligence caused the injury look below shows part of the TEXAS Workers´ Compensation Law

March 01 2013 at 7:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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