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Showing 14 posts by Michael A. Cassar.

Michigan Legislature Considers New COVID-19 Presumption Bill

Warehouse Workers Checking TemperaturesWe have written extensively about changes to Michigan workers’ compensation law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes came in the form of several executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer and various emergency rules promulgated by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (“LEO”). LEO promulgated its first Emergency Rules on March 30, 2020. Those Rules established a rebuttable presumption that a “first response employee” who is diagnosed with COVID-19 sustained a compensable work-related injury. Thereafter, the Governor signed various executive orders having similar effect. Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Department of Labor, Legislative Updates

Compensability of a Work-Related Suicide Claim

Workplace DepressionIn recent years, mental health issues and suicide have become increasingly prevalent among Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis. According to a CDC survey from June 2020, the pandemic has “considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions” in U.S adults. Data from the survey indicates that 42 percent of essential workers reported struggling with anxiety and/or depression. Most notably, 11 percent of all respondents seriously considered suicide within the preceding 30 days.

Overall, studies have shown that suicides related to workplace issues are on the rise, and the cause is often increased workplace stress and excessive workloads. Under what circumstances should the family of a worker who takes his or her own life be awarded workers’ compensation benefits? Below, we discuss a recent instructive case from Pennsylvania followed by an overview of how Michigan law handles this increasingly important issue. Read More ›

Categories: Case Law Updates, COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Employee Benefits, Workers' Compensation

The Compensability of After-Hours Work Injuries

Night Shift EmployeeRecently, several clients have posed questions regarding the compensability of after-hours injuries that occur on the employers’ premises. While the compensability of these injuries is often in the “grey area,” your determination will be heavily dependent upon the facts of each situation.

What follows is a brief overview of the prevailing case law and a basic framework for making a compensability decision in these types of scenarios. Read More ›

Categories: Case Law Updates, Workers' Compensation

COVID-19: Is It An Occupational Disease or Personal Injury – And Does It Really Even Matter?

Warehouse Workers with MasksUnfortunately, 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 ›

Categories: Case Law Updates, COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation

Court of Appeals Rules: Employee Fraud was Never a Condition for Recoupment Action

Employee InjuryThe 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 ›

Categories: Fraud & Abuse, Insurance, Legislative Updates, Workers' Compensation

COVID-19 Related Paid Leave Tax Credits Extended Into 2021

COVID Paid Sick LeaveThe 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 ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Employee Benefits, Employment, Workers' Compensation

Appeals Court Rejects Comp Benefits in ‘Special Mission’ Case

ClassroomOn 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 ›

Categories: Case Law Updates, Employment, Workers' Compensation

Deputy Director of LEO Issues New Emergency Rule Affecting Workers’ Compensation

Workers' Compensation Claim FormOn 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 ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Legislative Updates

Recent Michigan Supreme Court Decision Affects Workers' Comp COVID-19 Rebuttable Presumption

Court RoomOn 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 ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Legislative Updates

Michigan Legislators Propose Amendment to Workers’ Compensation Law to Benefit Certain COVID-19 Positive Employees

Face MasksAs you will recall, the Director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity promulgated Emergency Rules (“Rules”) on March 30, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we discussed in a previous blog post, the Rules establish a rebuttable presumption of personal injury for “first response employees” who are diagnosed with COVID-19. Now, the Michigan legislature is getting involved in the issue. Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Legislative Updates