Jerry Lehocky filed a number of Penalty Petitions after an employer failed to issue proper documentation following his client’s return to work in June of 2010. The employer had also failed to pay partial disability benefits between June of 2010 and August of 2010, although his client had been earning less than her pre-injury wages.
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (“Act”), if an injured worker returns to work after an injury, and is earning less than his time of injury earnings, the employer may modify wage loss benefits, but only if it provides written notification to both the injured worker and the Bureau to advise that benefits will be modified.
Additionally, the Act states that notification must be sent within seven days of the effective date of the modification. While the Act allows the injured worker to challenge the modification, the employee must file a challenge to the modification within a certain period of time. The Workers’ Compensation Judge granted the Penalty Petition and ordered the employer to pay the partial disability benefits at issue along with a 20% penalty.
Mr. Lehocky also established that the employer violated workers’ compensation laws by failing to reinstate his client’s workers’ compensation benefits in August of 2010, when she was forced to stop working because of the work injury. In this matter, the employer had issued a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable (“NTCP”) recognizing the work injury. In his review of the Bureau documents, Mr. Lehocky discovered that the employer had failed to timely stop the NTCP. Because the employer had failed to follow the procedural requirements of the Act, the Workers’ Compensation Judge granted the second Penalty Petition and ordered the employer to reinstate total disability benefits as of August 2010, as well as a 20% penalty on the benefits which were due and owing.