Most employers in West Virginia (WV) would never imagine that they would be deemed to be the chargeable employer in a hearing loss claim for an employee who worked a mere four days. But that's exactly what happened in a recent workers' compensation appeal before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Pioneer Pipe, Inc. v. Swain et al.
How do courts decide whether injuries that result from on-the-job falls are compensable workers' compensation claims? Workplace falls are common and can lead to serious, even fatal injuries. No industry is free from the common hazard of idiopathic falls. As a result, many state court systems have considered the interplay between idiopathic falls and workers’ compensation, including the compensability of idiopathic falls.
Arbitration can be a less expensive, relatively simple alternative to formal court litigation. Policy at the federal level clearly supports the ability of contracting parties to choose arbitrators over judges to resolve disputes. Regardless, many state courts find creative ways to avoid contractual arbitration clauses. Consider a recent case heard twice by the West Virginia (WV) Supreme Court of Appeals—the case of Schumacher Homes v. Spencer, which determined the enforceability of a WV arbitration clause in the parties’ contract.
Giving advance notice before pay change may not be in the forefront the mind of an employer. Sometimes, an employer’s attempt to navigate one new rule, regulation or law results in action that is governed by a completely different set of rules, regulations, or laws. Such was the case with proposed changes in federal labor laws under an Obama-era United States Department of Labor (DOL) proposed “final rule” that would have increased the minimum salary for exempt employees. Anticipating that new rule, some employers adjusted employee pay, hours, or exempt status before the rule was to take effect. In doing so, West Virginia employers may have forgotten their own state’s law requiring advance notice to employees before a pay change.
A common question presented to workers’ compensation attorneys involves how to handle psychiatric workers’ compensation claims. A 2012 opinion of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals illustrates one approach to deciding this difficult question.