Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage worldwide. At the time of this article being published, there have been nearly 28,000,000 cases and over 485,000 deaths in the United States. Over 600,000 cases and almost 16,000 deaths have occurred in Michigan, alone.
In response to the pandemic, many jurisdictions have implemented various Emergency Rules and Orders to all but ensure compensability for certain delineated essential, frontline and first response employees who contract COVID-19. Other states, like Illinois, have enacted actual legislation that similarly relaxes the burden of proving compensability for some of these favored workers. We have written about these Rules, Orders, and legislation on several occasions over the course of the last year. You can read our most recent article on this topic here. Read More ›
The Michigan Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion discussing the retroactivity of a prior opinion regarding the right of employers and insurance carriers to seek recoupment of benefits overpaid to an injured worker in the absence of fraud by the worker. Norman Carson v Bandit Industries Inc and Acuity Mutual Insurance Co, __ Mich App _ (2020). Read More ›
The federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) on March 18, 2020. The FFCRA was intended to provide support to workers who were unable to work while complying with government-mandated quarantines following exposure to COVID-19 or while taking care of someone else in quarantine. The law required employers with fewer than 500 employees (“covered employers”) to pay certain employees Emergency Paid Sick Leave, Emergency Family Medical Leave and/or Expanded Emergency Family and Medical Leave (together, “FFCRA Leave”) as more fully described below. Read More ›
On December 17, 2020, in an unpublished per curium decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed an award of workers' compensation survivor’s benefits that had been given to a widow whose spouse had been killed while he was traveling to a class the employer had encouraged him to attend and for which the employer had paid pursuant to its employee education assistance and tuition reimbursement program. See Lewis v LexaMar Corp, Mich App __ (2020). Read More ›
On October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the law upon which Governor Gretchen Whitmer relied to extend the State of Emergency after April 30, 2020 is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court's ruling, which we discuss here, invalidates the Governor's Executive Orders issued during the extended State of Emergency. Executive Order 2020-128, issued on June 18, 2020, established a rebuttable presumption that a "COVID-19 Response Employee" (a term which was not well-defined within the Executive Order) has sustained a compensable injury when he or she is diagnosed with COVID-19. Executive Order 2020-128 contained language quite similar to the March 30, 2020 Emergency Rule issued by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity ("LEO"). Read More ›
On October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion regarding whether Governor Gretchen Whitmer had the authority to declare and extend a State of Emergency and issue Executive Orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a lengthy opinion, the Court held that the Governor did not have proper authority because the law upon which she relied is unconstitutional. Read More ›
The Safeguarding America's First Responders Act - New Federal Law Provides Access to Death Benefits Program for Families of Public Safety Officers who Die as a Result of COVID-19
There have been nearly seven million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, with over 200,000 confirmed deaths. In Michigan alone, there have been over 130,000 confirmed cases and roughly 7,000 confirmed deaths. Certain employees working in the health field, including first responders, have been impacted significantly by COVID-19.
In a previous article, we discussed the Emergency Rules and Executive Orders promulgated by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, creating a rebuttable presumption that COVID-19 is a personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment for first response employees. Read More ›
Updated Protections for COVID-19 Response Employees: The Differences Between the Prior Emergency Rules and Recent Executive Orders
There have been nearly 70,000 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases in Michigan. This figure includes over 6,150 deaths. While other areas of the country are experiencing significant increases in confirmed COVID-19 cases, Michigan appears to have flattened the curve for the time being. We are currently averaging around 250 new cases per day. Read More ›
To date, the State of Michigan has over 66,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with roughly 6,000 deaths. While the curve appears to be flattening, the number of individuals who contract COVID-19 will undoubtedly continue to increase until effective treatments or a vaccination can be developed. As a result of this unprecedented pandemic, certain industries are likely to see an increase in the number of workers’ compensation claims filed in the state and around the country. Read More ›
The CARES Act Unemployment Expansion, Workers’ Compensation Wage Loss Offset, and Refusing to Return to Work During the Pandemic
The Unemployment Offset
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law on March 27th, 2020. One feature of the CARES Act is the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (“PUC”) program, which enhances weekly unemployment benefits administered by individual states by adding an additional $600 weekly supplement to an employee’s maximum weekly unemployment benefit rate. A related program created under the CARES Act, called the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (“PEUC”) program, extends the duration of weekly unemployment benefits by adding an additional thirteen weeks to the maximum recovery period each state otherwise allows. Read More ›