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Workers' Compensation
Dynamex independent contractor decision applies retroactively - California

In Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International Inc., the Supreme Court held its earlier decision, which established an "ABC" test for distinguishing between employees and independent contractors, should be applied retroactively to all non-final cases that predate the April 2018 date of the Dynamex decision. The court noted that it was a "well-established general principle" that judicial decisions "interpreting legislative measures" are retroactive.

Exclusivity bars detention officer's tort claim related to unsafe working conditions and COVID-19 - California

In Arnold v. Corecivic of Tenn., a former prison detention officer alleged that his former employer was liable in tort for negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). He argued that the conditions relating to the spread of COVID-19 were so dangerous that he was constructively discharged. While the district court acknowledged that the exclusivity rule is subject to some exceptions, the courts had refused to apply the exception where the employer was alleged to have violated health and safety regulations. Hence, the claim was barred by exclusivity.

CBA means that federal law, not state, governs dispute - Michigan

In Kelley v. General Motors LLC, an injured worker retired in 1992 because of his disability. He was a member of a labor unit that had a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with GM, which barred the coordination of benefits. "Coordination" allows an employer paying workers' compensation to offset a portion of certain other benefits, such as pensions and Social Security received by the employee and financed by the employer. Over time, the agreement was amended and in 2009 it provided that all workers who retired before Jan. 1, 2010, were subject to benefits coordination, regardless of their date of injury or retirement.

In 2014 the former employee began receiving Social Security disability benefits and GM coordinated them with workers' comp, reducing the weekly payments by about $118. He challenged the reduction as violating state law and the Administrative Hearings System Workers' Compensation Board of Magistrates agreed. However, an Appeals Court said the claim comes under Section 301 of the federal Labor Management Relations Act, which pre-empts state law if the claim requires the interpretation of a CBA. Since the CBA agreement was in effect only "until termination or earlier amendment," his right to uncoordinated benefits was subject to change.

Hospital worker assaulted when leaving work entitled to benefits - New York

In Jean-Pierre v. Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, a hospital worker was assaulted after her shift as she walked through the medical complex and sustained multiple injuries, and suffered from emotional distress. The hospital argued that her injuries did not arise out of and in the course of employment as it was after hours and on a public sidewalk. The Workers' Compensation Board disagreed, finding that the location was within the hospital's complex, so she was still on the employer's premises.

Court reverses Board and awards SLU for hamstring tear - New York

In Semrau v. Coca-Cola Refreshments USA Inc., the Workers' Compensation Board found that damage to a hamstring did not qualify for a schedule loss of use (SLU) because "no special consideration applies to a hamstring tear" in the guidelines. However, an appellate court found the decision failed to take into consideration that the guidelines specifically permit an SLU award to be based upon a permanent residual deficit caused by physical damage to a muscle, such as a hamstring. Further, the court noted that both orthopedists who examined the worker indicated he had reached MMI, that the hamstring tear had resulted in a permanent injury that could not be repaired surgically, and they could rely upon the special consideration for quadricep ruptures as the closest corollary to the injury and impairment.

Terminating employee for COVID-19 violation reports does not violate public policy - Pennsylvania

In Warner v. United Natural Foods Inc., an employee exhibited COVID-19 symptoms and was self-quarantining pending the results of a test. During this time, he used a state reporting form online to allege the company was violating social distancing, sanitizing, and contact tracing guidance. When he tested negative and attempted to return to work, he was terminated. Under state law, he was considered an employee-at-will and can be terminated at any time, except for violation of a "clear mandate of public policy."

The court noted there was precedent to determine whether the company's conduct implicated public policy and they needed to consider the state constitution, judicial precedent, or laws enacted by the state legislature. At the time, Pennsylvania was under an executive order, which is usually temporary and don't have the same "rigorous enactment process as a statute or administrative regulation."

120-Day notice of injury deadline cannot end on a Sunday - Pennsylvania

In Holy Redeemer Health Systems v. WCAB (Figueroa), the Commonwealth Court held that even if an employer is open on Sundays, an employee had an additional day to serve her notice to meet the 120-day requirement. The court noted the legislature could have provided that notice of a work injury has to be given on a Sunday if the employer is open for business but had not done so.

Benefits can only be terminated for incarceration after conviction - Pennsylvania

In Sadler v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd, the Supreme Court affirmed a decision by Commonwealth Court that authorizes the termination of benefit payments only during periods of incarceration served after conviction. When an injured employee could not make bail and served 525 days in jail before pleading guilty at trial, then was released for time served, he did not lose his benefits.