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Showing 11 posts by Alicia W. Birach.

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

Impact of COVID on Michigan’s Workers’ Comp Law

This month's 2nd Wednesday Morning Break addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Michigan Workers' Compensation law. In this episode, host and attorney Patricia Scott interviews fellow attorney Alicia Birach on how the pandemic has affected premiums, case progression and the nature of work injuries, including injuries arising from remote work. Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, 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

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

Updated Protections for COVID-19 Response Employees: The Differences Between the Prior Emergency Rules and Recent Executive Orders

Firetruck First RespondersThere 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 ›

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

Are Death Benefits Owed When an Employee Dies after Contracting the Coronavirus?

Life Insurance PolicyThe Context

There have been over 40,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan. This figure includes over 4,000 deaths.  We are currently averaging about 1,000 new cases and 100 new deaths per day. Fortunately, the curve is flattening and some areas of the state have seen decreases. Read More ›

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

Impact of Executive Orders on Reduction and Termination of Benefits

Couple looking at laptopJack Nolish, the recently appointed Director of the Michigan Workers' Disability Compensation Agency, issued a directive this week limiting employers' ability to terminate or reduce benefits during the period the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order (EO 2020-21) and Executive Order 2020-20 are in effect. To read more on this issue in Alicia Birach’s article, Impact of Executive Orders on Reduction and Termination of Benefits, can be found here.

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