After a work accident, many employees return to work in a modified or light duty capacity. Ironically, this can be the best protection for an injured worker against an employer who may seek to end the employment relationship. Courts in Pennsylvania look very closely, and perhaps skeptically, at employers who terminate or lay off an employee after a work accident, particularly when that employee is working in a modified or light duty capacity. An employer can always argue the injured worker was terminated for cause, willful misconduct, poor performance or excessive absenteeism. The employer will often refer to conduct that occurred before the work accident.
If injured at work, on restrictions and then terminated or laid off, have no fear! All an injured worker must prove in this scenario for wage loss benefits to be automatically reinstated, is that the reason for the termination or lay off was not caused by the fault of the injured worker and that earning power continues to be affected by the work injury. When an injured worker contacts our Firm and advises they were laid off while on light duty, typically a Penalty Petition is filed alleging that worker’s compensation benefits must automatically reinstated. Benefits are typically then reinstated without further delay. Keep in mind employers will try to allege the reason for the wage loss is a result of some objectionable conduct of the injured worker; however, when balancing the status of the injured worker when laid off with allegations of bad conduct, and depending when the conduct occurred, the injured worker will often prevail, and the insurance carrier may be exposed to additional penalties for not automatically reinstating benefits when the termination/lay off occurs.
Let us put our decades of experience to work for you, helping you navigate the complexities of the Workers’ Compensation laws.