Employer Need Not Show Job Not Available to Injured Worker in PA

One of the tools a workers’ compensation insurance company has in PA to reduce, or “modify,” workers’ compensation benefits is the Labor Market Survey (LMS) (Also called “Earning Power Assessment” (EPS)). This is used when the injured worker has physical limitations which prevent a return to the injured worker’s previous occupation.

As you can see by looking at Section 123.301 in the Regulations issued by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, before an Employer can resort to using an LMS, the Employer must demonstrate that there is no job available with the Employer within the physical limitations of the injured worker . . . or maybe not.

Recently, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania decided the matter of Rosenberg v. W.C.A.B. (Pike County), which dealt with this issue. The Court held, in a narrow 4-3 decision, however, that an Employer only had to address this issue if the injured worker offered evidence (which could just be testimony of the injured worker) that a job was indeed available with the Employer. Once that evidence was presented, then the Employer had the burden of proof to show no such job existed.

As the three Judges who dissented pointed out, this logic is blind to the fact that it is much easier for the Employer to show an absence of a suitable job than it is for an injured worker to show a job existed. One must wonder how an injured worker would know what is happening within the Human Resources department of their Employer (while the injured worker is home recovering from an injury yet).

This seems yet another case where the injured worker in PA gets the short end of the straw. Unfortunately, such a result seems to be happening all too frequently.