January 12, 2017
WC Appellate Division Decision issued on January 12, 2017 - Reinstatement Offer
Below is a summary of a decision of the Appellate Division of the Workers’ Compensation Board issued on January 12, 2017. Please contact any member of the Norman, Hanson & DeTroy workers’ compensation practice group if you have any questions concerning the implications of this decision.
In 2010 the employee was injured when she was struck on the head by a patient while working at a psychiatric facility. Ultimately she left that position in August 2013, and in early February 2014 she obtained part-time employment as a grocery store cashier. The position paid $8.00 per hour. Three days earlier the employee had been sent a reinstatement offer by the pre-injury employer for a different position paying $12.50 per hour.
The employee rejected the job offer because she had already accepted the position as a cashier and felt more comfortable with the work. The presiding ALJ found that the employee had good and reasonable cause to reject the reinstatement offer because the offer was not actually received until after the employee had obtained the cashier position. The ALJ ruled that under §214(1)(A) the employee was not deemed to have voluntarily withdrawn from the work force, thereby losing entitlement to wage loss benefits.
In St. Louis v. Acadia Hospital Corporation, App. Div. Dec. No. 17-3, the Division noted that the employee was obligated to accept the job offer unless there was good and reasonable cause for a refusal. The ALJ had concluded that the pre-injury employer had extended a bona fide offer of reasonable employment, but the Division ruled that the ALJ had failed to consider all of the appropriate factors necessary to determine the reasonableness of the refusal. While acceptance of post-injury employment with a new employer is one relevant factor, it is not the only factor that must be considered. Accordingly, the Division vacated the decision of the ALJ and remanded for further proceedings with instructions to evaluate all applicable considerations to determine whether the offer had been rejected without sufficient cause.