The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently decided the case of Torijano v. WCAB, in which the workers’ compensation benefits of an injured employee were suspended.
The employee injured his back during the course of his employment for a plumber and filed a claim for benefits. He was placed on medical restrictions, but could do some light-duty assignments, which the employer made available. The employee ultimately did not perform the light-duty work and was reprimanded by the employer. The employee never told the employer that he could not perform the light-duty work and instead stopped going to work. The employer filed a petition to suspend his benefits.
To suspend a claimant’s benefits, an employer must prove either that (1) work was available within the claimant’s medical restrictions, and that the employee refused the work, or (2) the claimant’s loss of earnings arises from a cause other than the work-related injury. Relying upon the second option above, the court held that the employee was not entitled to benefits because his loss of earnings was caused entirely by his voluntary resignation. Because the employer offered him a light-duty assignment, the claimant was not entitled to benefits where he refused to perform work that was within his medical restrictions.
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