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What is Voluntary Abandonment of Employment and How Does it Affect My Compensation?

by Jacob Brandt | Apr 15, 2019 | Workers' Compensation

Many injured workers throughout the state of Ohio come to learn that they are entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) compensation after the allowance of their claim. Temporary total disability compensation is awarded in instances where allowed conditions in a claim prevent an injured worker from returning to their former position of employment for a period greater than seven days. Temporary total disability is meant to provide a disabled worker wages that they would have received had the work place incident not occurred. These benefits are typically paid for a set period of time in which allowed conditions in a claim prevented the injured worker from doing their job. In situations where an injured worker requires surgery due to a work-related injury and needs time to recover before returning to work, they can receive TTD for that period of time away from their job.

Increasingly, employers are asserting the argument of voluntary abandonment of employment as a means to combat injured workers attempts at receiving TTD benefits. Voluntary abandonment of employment is a judicially created standard which provides that if an injured worker is fired or quits their employment for reasons unrelated to their workers’ compensation claim, they cannot assert a right to lost wages. Such a limit on wage replacement makes sense. Consider the following example. Bill works for a large manufacture of widgets and it is Bill’s job to deliver those widgets for the employer. While making his delivers for the employer Bill gets three speeding tickets in a month, an offense that calls for his termination. The employer intends to fire Bill for the speeding tickets but the day before they plan to do so Bill suffers a workplace accident that leaves him unable to work for a month. Immediately following the accident Bill is terminated by the employer.

In Bill’s case he would argue that he should be entitled to TTD wage replace for the month he was not able to work. However, the employer would rightfully assert that Bill voluntarily abandoned his employment by committing acts that he knew or should have known would result in his termination. It makes sense that Bill should not receive TTD wages given that he would not have been working regardless of the workplace incident. Injured or not Bill was not going to be receiving wages in that month given that his employer was going to, and did, fire him. Basically this doctrine prevents the payment of wages that would not be earned by the injured worker.

Given the voluntary abandonment doctrine it is important to be mindful of your on the job conduct. Often workers’ compensation claimants are sad to learn that their on the job conduct, completely unrelated to their accident, leads to the denial of certain benefits. It is important for all workers to understand that negative conduct on the job can not only lead to the loss of employment but also compensation under Ohio law. It is prudent for all workers to understand the rules set in place by their employers and what conduct acts as a violation of those rules.

If you’ve been terminated from your employment shortly after a workplace incident it is important to understand the voluntary abandonment doctrine. If you have had an employer assert this argument against you don’t hesitate to contact the Bainbridge Firm as we can help you attempt to defeat such a claim. We at the Bainbridge Firm, want to provide you all the assistance you could need in attempting to gaining available benefits.

Tags: employment TTD Voluntary Abandonment wages work place injury Workers' Compensation