Monday, November 10, 2014

employment - wrongful discharge - worker's comp.

Owens v. Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cmwlth. Court – November 7, 2014

A former at-will employee who alleged wrongful termination for having reported a work-related injury and having received benefits states a claim for relief for wrongful discharge, even if she has not filed a claim petition.

Section 315 of the Workers’ Compensation Act, 77 P.S. § 602. This provision recognizes that payment to an employee for a work-related injury by an employer may be made without a claim petition being filed, and that such agreements do not deprive an employee of the statutory right to file a claim petition should the agreement fail to sufficiently compensate the employee.

The Workers’ Compensation Act reflects both the historical quid pro quo between employers and employees, and the public policy of the Commonwealth. If an employer could discharge an employee for a work-related injury because the employee received payment in lieu of compensation, rather than compensation administered by the Bureau, the public policy embodied by the Workers’ Compensation Act would be undermined. . . .

Such a holding would create an incentive for employers to steer employees away from filing workers’ compensation petitions in order to retain the right to discharge the employee due to the injury, the exact harm the General Assembly intended to prohibit by enacting the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Appellant may ultimately be unable to carry her burden to establish that her injury was work-related and that the payments she received were for this injury. Employer may be able to demonstrate that there was a separate, plausible, and legitimate reason for Appellant’s discharge. However, these are considerations beyond the reach of preliminary objections; on demurrer, Appellant’s claim is sufficient.


federal diaability benfits - attachment - alimony/support

Uveges v. Uveges – Superior Court – November 5, 2014

Husband's disability benefits under federal statute, Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 USC 901 et seq., may be attached to pay his alimony obligation, despite anti-attachment clause of LHWCA, because

- alimony is not a debt under42 USC 659 (SSA  garnishment provision), which allows attachment for support/alimony

- wife is not a creditor

- LWHCA disability payments are "remuneration for employment" under sec. 659

UC - financial eligibility

Logan v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court – November 10, 2014

Claimant not financially eligible for UC benefits, because

            - her only income during her base year was worker's comp. benefits, which are not "wages" – Swackhammer v. UCBR, 484 A2d 851 (`984)

            - under alternate base year analysis under 77 PS 71(b), wages she had earned in otheere quarters had already been used for payment of benefits under a prior application and could not be used again in subsequent application. Lewis v. UCBR, 454 A2d 1191