Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Medical Commission approving John Lysne’s worker’s compensation claim seeking coverage for knee replacement surgery, holding that the Commission’s finding that Lysne’s work injury caused his need for knee replacement surgery was supported by substantial evidence and not contrary to law. On appeal, the Workers’ Compensation Division argued that Lysne did not provide adequate proof that his need for knee replacement surgery was causally related to his work injury. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the Commission’s finding of causation and the Commission’s rejection of contrary medical evidence that the workplace injury was not causally related to Lysne’s requested surgery. View "State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division v. Lysne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the Medical Commission Hearing Panel’s decision the Workers’ Compensation Division’s denial of permanent total disability benefits for a back injury Pete Hart sustained at work, holding (1) the district court appropriately remanded the claim to the Medical Commission, rather than simply reversing and awarding benefits, for further findings of fact and conclusions of law; and (2) the Medical Commission’s conclusion that Hart failed to demonstrate his disability was caused by his work-related back injury was supported by substantial evidence in the record. View "Hart v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Taco John’s International, Inc. (TJI), concluding that TJI properly terminated Plaintiffs, two corporate executives, for violating their employment agreements. Plaintiffs brought this action asserting breach of the employment agreements and seeking damages in excess of $1 million each. The district court granted summary judgment for TJI. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the undisputed facts showed that Plaintiffs breached the employment agreements by forming a new company while still employed as senior executives at TJI and pursuing a franchise opportunity unrelated to TJI; (2) the employment agreements unambiguously prohibited Plaintiffs from forming a new company and seeking other franchise opportunities while employed by TJI, and therefore, TJI properly terminated Plaintiffs’ employment for cause; and (3) TJI’s president and chief executive officer did not have apparent authority to allow Plaintiffs’ participation in a business venture unrelated to TJI and contrary to the terms of their employment agreements. View "Eby v. Taco John's International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Medical Commission upholding the decision of the Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division (the Division) denying benefits for Appellant’s back surgery, holding that substantial evidence supported the Medical Commission’s (the Commission) determination that the procedure was “alternative medicine” for which benefits were properly denied. Appellant underwent artificial disc replacement to treat her work-related back injury. The Division denied compensation for the jury, finding that it was not reasonable and necessary medical treatment because the artificial disc and surgical procedure had not been approved by the FDA and because Appellant had not presented sufficient objective medical support for their use. The Commission affirmed the Division’s denial of compensation, determining that the procedure was an “off-label” use of medical services and “alternative medicine” for which Appellant did not prove adequate support. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission erred in determining that implantation of non-FDA-approved artificial discs at adjacent levels of the lumbar spine was an “off-label” use of medical services; but (2) substantial evidence supported the Commission’s determination that Appellant failed to provide sufficient documentation of the procedure’s safety and effectiveness, rending it “alternative medicine” for which benefits were properly denied. View "Harborth v. State, ex rel., Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) concluding that the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division (Division) had properly terminated Appellant’s temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. The Division terminated Appellant’s TTD benefits after determining that Appellant had reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and suffered an ascertainable loss. After a contested case hearing, the OAH concluded that the Division had properly ceased paying TTD benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the OAH properly applied the relevant legal principals in reviewing the Division’s decision to terminate Appellant’s TTD benefits, and the OAH’s decision was supported by substantial evidence. View "Coggins v. State ex rel., Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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In this employment dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed separate district court decisions holding that the International Association of Fire Fighters Local Union No. 5058 (IAFF Local 5058) and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local Union No. 5067 (IAFF Local 5067) were not properly constituted bargaining units under the Wyoming Collective Bargaining for Fire Fighters Act. IAFF Local 5058 and IAFF Local 5067 appealed from separate district court decisions governing their attempts to bargain collectively with their respective corporate entities. The district courts held (1) the Act’s definition of “fire fighters” included volunteers because they are “paid members of…regularly constituted fire department[s]”; and (2) IAFF Local 5058 and IAFF Local 5067, which were formed by and consisted of only full-time career fire fighters, were not entitled to be represented in collective bargaining negotiations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the definition of “fire fighters” is unambiguous and includes volunteer and part-time (pool) fire fighters in Campbell and Teton counties; and (2) the context in these consolidated cases does not require a different interpretation. View "International Ass’n of Fire Fighters Local Union No. 5058 v. Gillette/Wright/Campbell County Fire Protection Joint Powers Board" on Justia Law

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Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-605 does not bar a claimant from receiving temporary total disability benefits for a second compensable injury when he has not filed a claim for benefits on his original injury within four years. Six years after receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a workplace injury to his right knee, James Hall underwent another knee surgery that was approved by the Workers’ Compensation Division. The Division denied Hall’s application for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, concluding that, under section 27-14-605(b), Hall was not entitled to TTD benefits related to the surgery after not seeking benefits on his original injury for over four years. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), however, concluded that section 27-14-605 did not govern Hall’s claim because Hall suffered a second compensable injury that section 27-14-605 did not control and that Hall was entitled to TTD benefits as a matter of law. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Hall suffered a second compensable injury and was therefore entitled to TTD benefits pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-404(a). View "In re Worker's Compensation Claim of James A. Hall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court ruling that the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) erred in upholding the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division’s denial of benefits to Richard Williams. Williams suffered a head injury while working as a well operator. Williams argued that a flash fire started him and caused him to fall backward and strike his head. The Division denied benefits, determining that Williams’ injury did not arise out of an in the course of his employment. The OAH upheld the denial of benefits, finding that Williams and his version of events lacked credibility. The district court reversed, concluding that the OAH decision was contrary to overwhelming medical evidence that Williams injured his head while engaged in work-related activities. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Williams offered evidence sufficient to raise a presumption that he suffered a head injury that arose out of his employment and that the Division failed to rebut that presumption. View "State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the district court’s order dismissing the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Labor Standards Appeals Division (WFS) from Appellant’s petition for review of a WFS hearing examiner’s decision denying Appellant’s request for damages on his claim that the Wyoming Department of Corrections (DOC) discriminated against him based upon his advanced age. The district court granted WFS’s motion to dismiss, concluding that WFS was not a proper respondent to the petition for review. Several months later, the district court denied Appellant’s motion to amend his petition for review to substitute or join DOC as respondent in the action, ruling that it had no jurisdiction to act on Appellant’s motion to amend because the case was finally resolved upon WFS’s dismissal. On appeal, the Supreme Court concluded that it did not have jurisdiction over this matter because the district court’s order dismissing WFS was final and appealable. View "Schmitz v. State, Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision affirming the decision of the Medical Commission, which sustained the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division’s termination of Sarah Morris’s temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. The Division terminated the TTD benefits after determining that Morris had reached maximum medical improvement. The Supreme Court held (1) the Commission appropriately determined that Morris had reached MMI and terminated her TTD benefits; and (2) substantial evidence existed to support the Commission’s decision that Morris’s injury to her right knee was not work-related. View "Morris v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law