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What happens if I’m laid-off or terminated while on workers’ compensation benefits or, if I’m laid-off or terminated after going back to work following my work injury?

Being laid-off or terminated while on workers’ compensation benefits has no effect on your right to weekly wage loss benefits or, the amount of benefits that you’re entitled to. In fact, being laid-off or terminated puts your employer in a worse position than they would otherwise be in. It weakens their argument that even though you might not be fully recovered from the work injury, you’ve recovered enough to be able to return to some kind of work. If you don’t have a job to return to because you were laid-off or fired by your employer, and they can’t prove that you’re fully recovered from your work injury, the only way the employer can stop or reduce your wage loss benefit is by doing vocational rehabilitation and showing that there is work available for you with a different employer. It also doesn’t sit well with a Workers’ Compensation Judge if litigation starts in your case and the Judge learns that your employer fired you knowing that they have work that you can do.

If you’re laid-off or terminated after you return to work following your work injury, you might be entitled to a reinstatement of workers’ compensation wage loss benefits, especially if you return to work with restrictions. Under the law, if you’re laid-off or terminated from a light duty job following a work injury, you’re entitled to a reinstatement of your wage loss benefits, as long as you weren’t terminated for cause (e.g., a disciplinary issue, etc.). Even being terminated for poor job performance while on light duty will not necessarily prevent you from going back out on workers’ compensation benefits as long as the recurrence of your wage loss was through no fault of your own. You can also file for a reinstatement of wage loss benefits if you’re laid-off or terminated after returning to work to your regular job with restrictions, but again, only if you weren’t terminated for cause.

Most employees in Pennsylvania are at-will employees which means that an employer can fire you for any reason short of a constitutional violation (e.g., you can’t be fire because of your sex, race, or religious beliefs), even if you’re out of work on workers’ compensation benefits. Many people think that an employer can’t fire someone who is out on workers’ compensation when, in fact, they can. Being out on workers’ compensation does not afford an at-will employee any greater protection against losing their job than what they had before the injury. A termination or lay-off while on workers’ compensation or, after returning to work following a work injury, will not necessarily end your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. You need to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if this happens to you.

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What is Vocational Rehabilitation and what is a Labor Market Survey (LMS)?

Many injured workers will be asked to participate in vocational rehabilitation by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. This is where the carrier hires a vocational rehabilitation company to find or, identify work that an injured worker can do despite their work restrictions. The goal of the carrier in doing vocational rehabilitation is to try to reduce or suspended the worker’s compensation based on an earning capacity that is establish by locating other jobs that the worker might be able to do. The process works one of two ways. The vocational rehabilitation company can locate and then refer the injured worker actual jobs openings within their restrictions either with the time of injury employer or, with another employer. This method is referred to as traditional job development or the Kachinski-method, named after the seminal case that established the standard for reducing or suspending an injured worker’s wage loss benefits by showing the availability of other work. Actual job openings are sent to the injured worker using this approach which the injured worker is then required to submit a resume, a job application or, schedule a job interview. If the injured worker fails to follow up of the job openings that are referred to him by the vocational company, the worker is giving the insurance carrier a basis for filing a petition asking a Judge to reduce or suspend their wage loss benefits based on what they would have earned if they applied and, were hired for the job. If the injured worker follows up on a particular job opening and is hired, the earnings from the new job will offset, reduce or suspend their wage loss benefits based on the wages earned in the new job.

The second form of vocational rehabilitation is done through a labor marker survey (LMS). This method of vocational rehabilitation was created by Act 57 in 1996 when there were major changes made to the Pa Workers’ Compensation Act, primarily due to the strong lobbying efforts by big business. This method makes it easier for an insurance company to stop or reduce an injured worker’s wage loss benefits because all they have to do is show that there is the “possibility“ of work in the general labor market that the worker can do despite their restrictions caused by the work injury. In other words, no actual job opening needs to be sent to the injured worker using this method. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier only needs to have the vocational rehabilitation company that they hire prepare a Labor Market Survey (LMS) report showing that jobs exist in the general labor market that the injured worker can do even with their work restrictions, if they chose to look for work. Then based on the earning capacity established in the “potential, ” though not actual job opportunities, the insurance company can file a petition against the injured worker to stop or reduce their weekly wage loss check.

Insurance companies typically start vocational rehabilitation when they cannot prove that an injured worker is fully recovered from their work injury but, they can prove that the worker is recovered enough to be able to do some kind of work. An injured worker is legally obligated to cooperate with the insurance company’s vocational efforts or run the risk of having their compensation stopped or reduced regardless of the success of the insurance company’s vocational efforts. You should immediately speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer when a vocational rehabilitation company hired by the carrier contacts you to try and find you work. An experienced compensation lawyer can help you navigate through what can be a very technical process. Know your rights!

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Why Teamwork Is Important In A Work Place

Effective teamwork in the workplace is important for many reasons but one of the most important reasons is to achieve success. When a team works together effectively, you’re guaranteed a successful outcome of high-quality standards. When working together as a team, you have different people offering artistic ideas and explanations to problems. A team that works well together is also able to encourage one another as they work their way through their tasks and efficiently meeting their purposes.

3 ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE TEAMWORK

COMMUNICATION

When working with a group, it’s very important to communicate. When you have good communication, you have the ability for open discussions amongst each other to be on the same page to ensure your work product is completed and as efficient as possible. Effective communication allows a team to bring together different ideas and creativity to achieve more together.

RESPONSIBLITES

Each team member is assigned specific responsibilities to complete in achieving the same goal. Assigning responsibilities to the right person is significant as each team member has different strengths. Team members have different levels of experience and can help in creating the optimal solution. Learning from people’s strengths can enhance other’s knowledge and also increase their confidence.

SUPPORT

A support network can create a sense of belonging that can contribute greatly to job satisfaction. Team members will help and rely on each other and build trust within each other. During challenging or stressful times at work, support is vital for a successful outcome. Look to team members for guidance and support so the focus doesn’t deviate from the overall goal.

The best results come from working effectively as a team such as, a positive team spirit, increased productivity and a better work produce. All in all, working as a team will inevitably translate into success.

THERE IS NO “I” IN TEAM

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Feeding your thoughts

Food…. I know what you’re thinking, 5’11 close to 265lbs of course he would be writing about food. Well yes that is true but I want to give you my vision on food and cooking in general. Besides needing food to survive, it’s also an escape for me. It is a way to show my personality, creativity, imagination and a mental vacation from my daily routines. It isn’t rare for someone to randomly show up in my house and there is a pastry recently taken out of the oven or meat marinating for my next experiment. When I was younger I had a huge passion for art be it painting or drawing on an empty canvas waiting for my thoughts to be made visible. Years later that passion is still there except my canvas is no longer a white cloth stapled to four pieces of wood, it is now produce or poultry or anything I can find in your local supermarket. Let me fill you in on a little secret, I’m a very picky eater so there isn’t many things that I would just eat and smile about after. Going out to restaurants sometimes can be a waiter’s nightmare with all the changes I make to a plate to have a meal that I want. Instead of creating a hard time for a waiter, I just stay home and please my own pallet. My food is how I envision it should taste, I put as much flavor as I can without over doing it and passion and love go into each bite. What better way to show your spouse or family that you love them then to make them a delicious home cook meal that you put all your effort and time in just so they can be satisfied? So the next time you’re home and are hungry, don’t reach for a menu and order from your local pizzeria, walk into your kitchen, open you refrigerator and create beautiful edible scenery. Your bank account and stomach will thank you later.

Enjoy and Buen Provecho.

-Jaime Rodriguez

 

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