Job Not “Available” to Injured Worker Because Medication May Cause Drowsiness

As an attorney representing injured workers in Pennsylvania, I find “no work” jobs to be one of the nastier and more insulting actions an employer can take. Like they sound, “no work” jobs are positions offered to injured workers by their pre-injury employers, where the injured worker is to sit at a desk and literally do nothing. One of the favorite tricks of nasty employers is to offer such a job, wait for the employee to fall asleep, then fire the employee for sleeping on the job.

Though Courts in PA have held that “no work” jobs are “real” jobs, and have suspended workers’ comp benefits to injured workers who refuse such jobs without reason, a recent case shows the PA Courts do recognize limits to such actions. In Channellock, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Reynolds), the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that a “no work” job was not within the injured worker’s physical capabilities.

The injured worker was taking medications which made him drowsy. A Workers’ Compensation Judge found both the injured worker, and his doctor, credible on this point. The injured worker tried the “no work” job and fell asleep. The worker was threatened with termination if this happened again. The Court found that proved that the job required that Claimant stay awake and that the credible evidence showed Claimant cannot stay awake due to his medication. As such, the job was not available to the injured worker and workers’ comp benefits were to continue.