As we have explained before, one of an employer’s main defenses in a workers’ compensation claim is that the employee’s own actions – rather than the work-related injuries — have led to the employee being off work. The Ohio Supreme Court recently revisited the analysis of when an employee’s actions constitute a voluntary abandonment of employment thereby precluding receipt of temporary total disability compensation.

In State ex. rel. Robinson v. Indus. Comm., Parma Care Nursing and Rehabilitation hired Shelby Robinson in 1995, and at that time, provided her with a written job description that established her job duties and responsibilities. Further, Parma Care provided her with a copy of an employee handbook detailing Parma Care’s policies and procedures. Over the years, Parma Care disciplined Robinson for violating work rules. In a written warning on February 29, 2008, Robinson acknowledged that she had been warned that any future violations would result in her termination from employment.

On April 10, 2008, Robinson was injured at work and subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim, which was recognized for multiple low back conditions. As a result, she returned to work in a light duty capacity. On April 15, 2008, a state surveyor reported to Parma Care that Robinson had violated state rules. Based on this infraction, Parma Care terminated Robinson’s employment.

Subsequently, Robinson’s physician certified that Robinson was temporarily and totally disabled from all employment beginning on the date of her injury. The Industrial Commission determined that Robinson’s termination amounted to a voluntary abandonment of her employment and she therefore was ineligible for temporary total compensation. Robinson appealed and the Court of Appeals upheld the Industrial Commission’s decision. Robinson appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which affirmed the decision and held that Robinson voluntarily abandoned her employment as a result of her termination for violating a written work rule and was not entitled to receive temporary total disability compensation. 
Continue Reading Detailed, written job descriptions are vital to employer’s defense in workers’ compensation claim