Case Law Update

May 30, 2014

Greenawalt v. WCAB (Bristol Environmental Inc.), __ A.3d. __ (Pa. Cmwlth., No. 1894 C.D. 2013, filed May 12, 2014).

The claimant appealed the denial of his claim petition on the basis that Pennsylvania lacked jurisdiction over his work injury.

The claimant was a union laborer and worked for the employer a number of times, for limited periods of time, followed by a lay-off. Before the most recent job with the employer at a job site in New York, the claimant had worked for two other companies. The claimant was injured while working at a job site in New York.

The claimant argued that his employment was principally localized in Pennsylvania, making jurisdiction proper under Section 305.2(a)(1) of the Act. The Court disagreed, instead agreeing with the WCJ that claimant’s employment was principally localized in New York.  Although the claimant had trained for a week in PA, the record confirmed that he underwent training in order to get a NY license, that he had been hired to work in NY, that he worked 40 hours per week in NY and that he had remained at that NY job site until his layoff.

The Court upheld the WCJ’s finding that the claimant’s various jobs with the employer did not establish a continuous employment relationship for purposes of determining where claimant’s employment was principally localized. The Court explained that a continuous employment relationship does not exist where a claimant works for an employer on a per-job basis, followed by a break in employment during which he works for a different employer, before being re-hired by the original employer. While the claimant had worked 30 to 50 jobs for the employer over a five year period, the Court found a break in his employment because he worked for two other employers prior to being re-hired by the employer to work in New York.

Because claimant’s employment was principally localized in New York the Court also rejected claimant’s alternative argument that he satisfied Section 305.2(a)(2) of the Act (ie his contract for hire was made in PA and that his employment was not localized in any state).

While the claimant took issue with the finding that his employment was “principally localized” in New York, the Court noted that the employer exercised some right and control over the activities at the job site in New York and that employees reported to the job site, where they performed their job duties. The Court found that these activities demonstrated that the employer operated a business in New York. In addition, since the claimant worked 40 hours a week plus overtime, at the job site in New York, this further demonstrated that the claimant’s employment was principally localized in New York under Section 305.2(d)(4)(i).

Because the claimant failed to prove that Pennsylvania had jurisdiction over his claim, and because he admitted that he failed to present proof as to the applicability of New York workers’ compensation law, the Court rejected the claimant’s request for a remand for findings as to the applicability of New York workers’ compensation law.

Accordingly, the denial of the claim petition was affirmed.

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