THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS UPHOLDS WORKERS COMPENSATION BOARD DECISION
REGARDING CLAIMANT’S VOLUNTARY RETIREMENT
We recently reported about a successful decision in favor of the self-insured employer, Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., that claimant’s voluntary retirement was not causally related to his 2015 work injury due to the employer’s failure to accommodate claimant’s work restrictions.
After the filing of Entergy’s successful Decision, the claimant appealed the decision by the Board. On appeal, the claimant argued that, as a longtime employee of Entergy, he was well aware of the employer’s policies regarding full duty positions held open for employees out of work on short term disability leave or Workers’ Compensation. In that regard, the claimant further argued that he knew that the employer would not continue to hold open his full duty position until the expiration of the short term disability time period, and as such, claimant was forced to retire or else he would face termination from his job and loss of retirement benefits. The claimant further reasoned that his injury prevented him from returning to full duty before his short term disability expired and thus, he was forced to retire or face termination and a loss of his pension.
Bella Pevzner, Esq. arguing the appeal for the firm disputed claimant’s version of the facts and cited to the testimony gained from the employer’s witness at trial. Ms. Pevzner elicited specific testimony which confirmed that the claimant never sought light duty or contacted the firms’ client to discuss work within his restriction. Additionally, Ms. Pevzner reiterated on appeal that the medical evidence clearly showed that claimant could return to light duty work before the end of the short term disability period and that the claimant testified that he was never advised by his doctor that he must retire from his job due to his work injury.
The Board of Commissioners agreed with Ms. Pevzner and upheld the Board’s Decision in which the claimant was found to have voluntarily retired. Specifically, the Commissioners pointed to the fact that both the claimant and the employer’s witness testified that claimant made no effort to contact Entergy in regard to a light duty position despite the medical evidence which confirmed the claimant’s ability to return to work with restrictions. Also, claimant conceded that his treating physician never recommended that claimant retire due to his work injury. As such, the Board of Commissioners were not convinced that claimant’s decision to retire was causally related to his work injury.