Supreme Court will look at wage calculation in workers� compensation case
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will look at whether part-time work wages should be calculated along with full-time wages in determining how much an injured employee should receive in workers� compensation payments. On August 2, the court granted a petition for allowance of appeal in Hannaberry HVAC and Donegal Mutual Insurance Companies v. WCAB. The petition was filed by Charles Snyder.
Snyder was injured in 1996 while he was employed full-time. Prior to graduating high school, he worked for the same company as a part-time employee. Snyder was employed full-time for one full quarter before his injury. After Snyder�s injury, his employer issued a notice of compensation payable and calculated his weekly wage at $207.03 and a corresponding compensation rate of $186.33. Snyder challenged the calculation, saying it was unfair to average his part-time wages with the full-time ones in coming up with his compensation rate.
The WCJ agreed with Snyder and adjusted his weekly wage to $473.65 with a corresponding rate of $315.76. The WCJ stated that the difference between a high school student and an adult member of the work force were drastic, warranting a change in rates.
The employer appealed to the WCAB, which affirmed the WCJ ruling. The employer then appealed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. In July of 2000, the Commonwealth Court reversed the decision, citing section 309 of the Workers� Compensation Act. The court said in its opinion that Snyder�s part-time and full-time wages should be calculated together to get the average weekly salary.
The court said that the 1996 amendment to the Act was to prevent people from making more money on compensation than they would in the work force. There is no distinction in the language of the Act between part and full-time employment. The court ruling was that it could not read into Section 309 of the Act a distinction between part and full-time employment that did not exist.
The Supreme Court will now hear the appeal in this case.
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