The Legal Intelligencer reported that the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently ruled workers’ compensation benefits should not be denied to a Coca-Cola employee while in pretrial incarceration.
Philadelphia attorney Richard Jaffe of the Law Offices of Richard A. Jaffe represented Carl Sadler in Sadler v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Philadelphia Coca-Cola). Sadler was injured on the job in 2012 while working for the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Inc. He began receiving workers’ compensation benefits while in recovery.
In 2013, he was arrested and held on $150,000 bail. Since he was unable to post bail, he was held in pretrial incarceration for 525 days. In 2015, Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Inc. filed to suspend Sadler’s workers’ compensation benefits.
How the law protects injured workers while awaiting trial
Under Section 306(a.1) of the Workers’ Compensation Act, the company would not be required to pay for Sadler’s benefits only after conviction. Sadler was not yet convicted, but Coca-Cola argued that since Sadler pleaded guilty, the time he spent in jail prior to the trial makes him ineligible to continue receiving benefits.
A workers’ compensation judge and the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Board later ruled in favor of Coca-Cola’s decision, but the Commonwealth Court panel, led by Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer, challenged this ruling.
“Prior to his conviction, claimant was incarcerated because of his inability to make bail, not because of a conviction for criminal conduct. To suspend claimant’s benefits during a period that he is not incarcerated after a conviction, and during which his loss of earning power is caused by his work injury, essentially punishes him because he was unable to meet bail. This is not consistent with the humanitarian purpose of the act and is not consistent with the plain language of Section 306(a.1),” Jubelirer said in a statement.
The rulings made by the workers’ compensation judge and the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Board were overturned by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania – who ordered that Sadler’s benefits to be reinstated and recalculated to included overtime, since he was subject to prejudice due to his inability to afford bail.
Facing challenges with your workers’ compensation claim? Speak to an attorney now!
The Law Offices of Richard A. Jaffe is dedicated to ensuring that claimants are treated fairly by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Board. If you’ve been injured on the job and are facing challenges with the state board, contact our law offices today for legal help. We want to make sure the board is abiding by the law and doing the right thing.