Articles Posted in Labor & Employment 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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the Medical Commission’s denial of Dennis Howe’s claim for permanent partial impairment (PPI) benefits for a work-related injury Howe suffered. The district court affirmed the decision of the Commission. In affirming the district court, the Supreme Court held (1) the Commission’s determination that Howe did not prove he was entitled to an increased impairment rating due to the result of chlorine exposure was supported by substantial evidence, and the Commission could have reasonably concluded as it did; and (2) the Commission’s decision was not arbitrary and capricious. View "Howe v. State, ex rel., Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s affirmance of the decision of the Medical Commission, which upheld the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division’s denial of benefits to James Boyce. Boyce suffered an inguinal hernia while working. Boyce received workers’ compensation benefits to cover that injury, but the Division denied benefits for subsequently discovered conditions in Boyce’s lumbar spine. The Supreme Court agreed with the decisions below, holding that the Medical Commission did not act unreasonably or contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence in rejecting the opinion of Boyce’s medical expert and concluding that Boyce failed to prove that his work injury caused his need for subsequent spinal surgery. View "Boyce v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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Employee was terminated from her position as a custodian at a junior high school for stealing or attempting to steal a backpack belonging to a student. The Board of Trustees of Sweetwater County School District No. 1 (Board) upheld Employee’s termination, concluding that there was cause to terminate Employee and there was no prejudice from any claimed defect in the predetermination process. The district court reversed, concluding (1) there was substantial evidence to support the Board’s determination that there was just cause to terminate Employee, but (2) Employee was not provided adequate predetermination process. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision and reinstated the Board’s order upholding the termination, holding that the Board’s decision that Employee received adequate predetermination due process was legally correct and supported by substantial evidence. View "Sweetwater County School District Number One v. Goetz" on Justia Law

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Collateral estoppel is not given effect to an uncontested Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division (Division) determination denying workers’ compensation benefits even when the denial is based on a finding that the employee did not suffer a compensable injury. Lea Porter, through her employer, submitted a report of injury to the Division, by which Porter reporter an injury to her left knee. The Division issued to Porter final determination informing her that it would not approve payments of benefits upon its determination that the injury was not a work-related injury. Porter did not object to the final determination or request a hearing but did object to a later final determination of the Division that denied payment of costs related to an MRI of her left knee. The Office of Administrative Hearings granted summary judgment for the Division, concluding that Porter could not challenge the denial of benefits for the MRI because she did not object to the Division’s earlier determination that her injury was not work related. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Porter’s failure to object to the Division’s compensability determination did not preclude her objection to the Division’s final determination denying benefits to cover her MRI costs. View "Porter v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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The Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division covered the surgery on Jeffrey Baker’s shoulder, which was injured at work. The Division, however, denied Baker’s subsequent request for temporary total disability benefits related to a neck injury Baker claimed occurred with the shoulder surgery. The Medical Commission Hearing Panel denied Baker’s claim on review, determining that Baker failed to prove a causal relationship between his neck injury and the work-related accident. The district court upheld the decision of the Commission. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission’s determination was supported by substantial evidence. View "Baker v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Karen Hardy was injured during the course of her employment. In 2015, Hardy sought treatment for low back pain. The Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division denied payment for Hardy’s medical bills. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) concluded that Hardy’s injury was not compensable because Hardy had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence a causal connection between her 2013 work-related injury and her 2015 back injury. The district court affirmed. Hardy appealed, arguing that she was entitled to benefits under the second compensable injury rule. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that substantial evidence supported the OAH’s conclusion that Hardy failed to demonstrate that it was more probable than not that her 2013 injury was causally related to her 2015 injury. View "Hardy v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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In 2004, Appellant suffered a work-related injury. Appellant had shoulder surgery the next year, and the surgery was covered by the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division. In 2013, Appellant sought benefits for surgery on the same shoulder. During the 2013 surgery, Appellant’s surgeon found a hole in the fascia over Appellant’s acromioclavicular joint that may have occurred during the 2005 surgery. Appellant claimed that the 2013 surgery was a second compensable injury, but the Division denied her claim. On appeal, the Medical Commission concluded that there was no causal link between Appellant’s work-related injury and the need for her 2013 surgery. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission’s conclusion that Appellant’s medical treatment was not compensable was supported by substantial evidence. View "Price v. State, ex rel., Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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Horsley Company, LLC was a Florida contractor hired to install equipment at the Jackson, Wyoming airport. Cody Beazer, Horsley’s employee, was injured while he was working on the airport project. The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division notified Horsley that it was liable to the State for all payments made to Beazer because Horsley had not filed an “employee report” for the period in which Beazer’s injury occurred. Horsley objected to the Division’s determination that it was required to reimburse the Division for payments made to Beazer. The Office of Administrative Hearings granted summary judgment for Horsley, determining that Horsley had complied with the Worker’s Compensation Act in all respects and was not liable for payments made to Beazer by the Division. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Division’s challenge to the finding that the Division was estopped from seeking reimbursement for payments made to the claimant did not provide a sufficient basis to overturn the award of summary judgment; and (2) the Supreme Court was deprived of jurisdiction to consider the Division’s challenge to the award of attorney’s fees to Horsley. View "State ex rel. Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division v. Beazer" on Justia Law