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Failure to follow employer's leave request procedures does not prohibit claim

In Martin v. Yokohama Tire Corporation, a Virginia district court held that a 'failure to accommodate' claim can proceed even though the employee did not follow the employer's request procedures. (W.D.Va. November 12, 2013). The employee, a diabetic, requested time off for medical appointments and illness; however, he never went to the HR department, which was required of employees requesting accommodations.

The employer unilaterally changed the employee's shift to weekends and argued this was a form of accommodation. Noting that this was sufficient evidence to prove the employer knew of the need for accommodation, the court found the employee's failure to follow the company's accommodation request procedures insufficient to deny the accommodation. Furthermore, unilaterally imposed accommodations do not suffice.

Doctor's opinion of medical restrictions for job applicant must be "thorough and/or reasonable"

In Lafata v. Dearborn Heights School District No. 7, the school district relied upon the results of a post-offer physical by its doctor to withdraw the offer of employment to a building superintendent who has a genetic disorder that causes muscle deterioration and gradual loss of strength. While the district's doctor recommended a lifting restriction, both the applicant and his personal physician said he was capable of managing the essential functions of the job.

According to the U.S. District Court, the applicant's past work record, the opinion of his physician and the possibility of a reasonable accommodation were not adequately considered. The district "had a duty to review [its doctor's] report to assure itself that his examination and analysis were thorough and/or reasonable," and did not do so, thus they granted summary judgment to the applicant.

Workers' Compensation
RICO case can move forward - Arizona

A federal district court judge ruled that nine fire department employees may maintain a civil action filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations [RICO] Act against York Risk Services Group, the City of Phoenix's third-party administrator to handle Workers' Compensation claims [Miller, et al. v. York Risk Servs. Group]. While York argued that the alleged injuries were personal and not business-related, the judge found that the employees possess a sufficient property right in their Workers' Compensation benefits under state law to supply the property interest required under the RICO act.

Resolution of Workers' Comp suit does not prevent negligence suit - New York

According to New York's high court, a negligence suit can move forward, despite the settlement of a Workers' Compensation claim, because the arguments, although similar, are not identical. A food delivery employee was hit on the head by a sheet of plywood that fell from a Manhattan building and received benefits in 2003 for injuries to his head, neck and back, as well as for psychological injuries.

In 2004, the employee also filed a personal injury lawsuit against the building's owners. In 2006, the Workers' Compensation Board found that the work-related disability ended in January 2006. The building owner moved to dismiss the liability case, arguing that the tort case would be "relitigating" the disability issue that was decided by the Workers' Comp board, but the high court found that the negligence action was broader in scope than the Workers' Compensation case - focused on the impact of the injury over the course of plaintiff's lifetime - and therefore could proceed.

Medicare set-aside funds required despite worker's death - North Carolina

An employer must pay part of the money into an employee's Medicare set-aside account for future medical costs, even though the man died before he could receive it, a North Carolina appellate court has ruled. The case is a good lesson in the importance of carefully drafting settlement agreements.

The employee was a utility worker for a laundry machinery firm, who had settled a Workers' Compensation claim in August 2010. The settlement agreement included funds for the Medicare set-aside, including an immediate $19,582 in seed money and then annual payments based on a 19-year expectancy. The employee died in October 2010.

When the employer did not pay the set-aside, the widow appealed, noting the company would be enriched at her expense. The Court of Appeals held that the seed money was guaranteed and therefore must be paid by the company; however, the annual contributions were not guaranteed because the explicit condition of survival was not met.

Court allows occupational disease exposure claims against employers when arising after the 300-week statute of limitations - Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Tooey v. AK Steel Corp., ruled that occupational diseases that manifest outside of a 300-week period prescribed by the Workers' Compensation Act do not preclude an employee from filing a civil action against his or her employer. The exclusive remedy provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act do not apply to latent occupational diseases, or diseases that could take years to develop and be diagnosed.

In reversing an August 2010 order of the state Superior Court, a lower-tier appellate bench, the court noted that the 300-week time window in which to bring a claim "operates as a de facto exclusion of coverage under the Act for essentially all mesothelioma claims." (The case evolved around asbestos exposure) This leaves the employee with no remedy against his or her employer, a consequence that clearly contravenes the Act's intended purpose of benefiting the injured worker.

Hijacked UPS driver to receive Workers' Compensation for PTSD - West Virginia

The state Supreme Court has ruled that a UPS driver's post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a hijacking is a compensable injury. The hijacker had a rifle and fired shots during the hijacking. Although denied by earlier reviews because compensation for a psychiatric injury was barred, the Board of Review relied on the physical nature of the incident, noting the driver was detained, held at gunpoint, and stripped of his keys; therefore sustaining a personal injury.

Exclusivity does not apply when employee on administrative leave - Wisconsin

In Bostwick v. Watertown Unified Sch. Dist., the district court found the alleged wrongs against a principal who was fired arose out of his employment, but they did not occur "in the course of the employment" since he was on administrative leave at the time. While the principal's contract had been renewed five times, he began having difficulties with his supervisors when a new superintendent came on board. He was the subject of an investigation, accused of misconduct, which he denied, and placed on administrative leave.

When he claimed harassment and age discrimination, slander/libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the school district argued that the exclusive remedy provision of Workers' Compensation barred the claims. The court found that the injury did not take place while the principal was fulfilling his work duties, also noting that Wisconsin's courts had not adopted the "quantum theory" of work connection, under which the weakness of the course of employment argument can be made up by the strength of the arising out of employment factor.