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Employee who could not work overtime was not disabled under ADA

An employee who was not able to work overtime hours but was able to work a normal 40-hour workweek and had not demonstrated that his impairments significantly restricted the class of jobs or a broad range of jobs available to him was not disabled within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because he was not "substantially" limited, according to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This case involved an employee who had worked rotating 12-hour shifts prior to a substantial leave related to leukemia. When he sought reinstatement his medical release limited him to working no more than eight hours a day. For more than one year he was denied reinstatement because there were no jobs that matched his medical restrictions. When the restrictions were relaxed, rthe employer bargained with the union to create a new position and awarded it to the employee.

The employee filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC that issued a right to sue letter. The lawsuit in federal court asserted that he was an individual with a disability who had been denied reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The employer argued that he was not an individual with a disability because he "was physically able to work a normal 40-hour workweek and had not demonstrated that his impairments significantly restricted the class of jobs or a broad range of jobs available to him."

The district court and upon appeal the 4th Circuit granted summary judgment to the employer. The 4th Circuit adopted the reasoning of the other federal courts, holding that an inability to work overtime does not constitute a "substantial" limitation on a major life activity under the ADA.

Requirement of reporting prescription drug use not an ADA violation if job-related and consistent with business necessity

A product technician for a manufacturer injured himself on the job and his doctor prescribed a narcotic pain medication for back pain. Following an altercation with a coworker, the technician received a final warning. Later, he approached his supervisor to report that someone had taken 40 tablets of his pain medication at work. Due to his failure to report the medication and his admissions that he had given coworkers some of the pills, the manufacturer terminated him. He sued under the ADA. The court granted summary judgment to the manufacturer, finding that the technician could not establish his failure to accommodate, disability discrimination, and mixed motive claims.

The technician's disability discrimination claim also failed. He alleged that the manufacturer's policy requiring employees to report any prescription drug use that could affect work performance was a per se ADA violation. The court read his complaint to allege that the policy was an improper medical inquiry. Because the technician "vehemently" argued that he voluntarily reported his medication to his supervisors, the court rejected this argument. According to the court, the ADA allows an employer to require that employees report prescription drugs if it is job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Workers' Compensation
Termination for misconduct does not result in elimination of temporary disability benefits - Arkansas

An employee who was working on a light-duty assignment was terminated for calling his supervisor a derogatory and vulgar name, insubordination and gross misconduct. The Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission found he was still entitled to additional temporary total disability benefits, wage-loss disability, and attorney's fees despite his termination, which came after some temporary disability benefits had been awarded.

Upon appeal, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled, "The misconduct and insubordination presented in this case are just that, misconduct and insubordination, and nothing more. After committing the misconduct and suffering the suspension, (employee) returned to work. It was then (employer's) option to terminate his employment or allow him to continue working light duty."

Worker's medical history warrants expense of out-of-state surgeon - California

Pointing out that the worker had a complicated medical history, the California Workers' Compensation Appeals Board concluded that the out-of-state surgeon was the "obvious choice" among the available doctors offering treatment reasonably required to cure or relieve the worker from the effects of his injury. The testimony of the treating physician, who said that the out-of-state surgeon did more total shoulder revisions per year than collectively the 11 in-state surgeons authorized by the employer was instrumental.

Company's failure to have spotter for excavator is serious and willful misconduct and results in increased benefits - California

An employee suffered serious work injuries leading to a leg amputation when an excavator accidentally drove over his foot while he was kneeling down to push a rock into an excavation. The worker received temporary disability benefits and permanent disability benefits. In addition, the injured worker sought and eventually received additional Workers' Compensation benefits, citing "serious or willful misconduct."

Specifically, the California Court of Appeals court found the following:

Claimant's ex-wife entitles to part of Medicare set-aside (MSA) - Illinois

This case involved an employee who was awarded a Workers' Compensation settlement of $435,000, including a $70,000 MSA. When he divorced, a trial court's judgment of dissolution of marriage awarded his ex-wife 17.5% of the "net proceeds."

A dispute arose over whether this included 17.5% of the $70,000 MSA. The husband argued that the MSA funds were not net proceeds, but were set aside to cover Medicare's interests. The trial court found and the 3rd District Appellate Court, in a split decision, agreed that the $70,000 was part of the net proceeds and that Petitioner can provide that 17.5% from the settlement funds.

Officer strikes out in attempt to receive benefits for injuries from softball game - New York

The New York Workers' Compensation Board held that an officer's injuries, sustained in an off-duty softball tournament with her coworkers, did not arise out of and in the course of her employment. In denying benefits, the board noted that the officer was neither required nor compensated to participate in the tournament.

The tournament involved employees from various jails, and practices took place on weekends. Employees had to charge their accruals for time spent participating in the tournament and were required to pay an entry fee. While T-shirts, hats, and food were supplied to the employees, the cost for the items came from the entry fees. The games did not take place on the department's premises and the department did not provide equipment for the games or transportation to and from the games. Fliers and sign-up sheets were hung in the jails, and the trophy was displayed in the winning team's jail. The intent of the tournament was to boost employee morale. However, the department offered no incentive for participation in the tournament and did not overtly encourage its employees to participate in the tournament.

Pre-existing conditions are compensable if the condition was made symptomatic by work - Pennsylvania

In this case, an injured worker had a long history of allergies and respiratory symptoms and the air pollution at work aggravated her conditions and led to chronic conjunctivitis. The Workers' Comp insurance carrier filed a Petition for Termination, saying the work injury had resolved and that the injured worker had returned to baseline and later, on appeal, argued that the condition was related to the pre-existing allergies.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania distinguished this case from the general rule - that the work injury may be seen to end when the worker returns to his or her baseline condition. It noted though the injured worker had allergies and respiratory problems for years, she never had conjunctivitis before the work-related injury. Since the injured worker continued to demonstrate the effects of the conjunctivitis, she was not fully recovered.

Supreme Court decision - disability year determines Longshore benefit amount

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the year a worker first becomes disabled determines his Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act benefit payment amount. Benefit award calculations are not determined by the year a judge orders their payment but by the year a worker becomes disabled, the high court found in clarifying the meaning of a phrase within the act, "newly awarded compensation."