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Suspended EMT due workers comp benefits

Suspended EMT due workers comp benefits

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that government agencies must pay workers compensation to workers who are suspended without pay for criminal charges.

In Brian Benoit v. City of Boston, the city had refused to pay comp benefits to Mr. Benoit, who suffered an ankle injury while working as an emergency medical technician 2011 and one year later, in 2012, was indicted on charges relating to misuse of controlled substances intended for his emergency patients, according to court documents filed Suffolk County’s Supreme Judicial Court in Boston.

The city suspended Mr. Benoit without pay upon hearing of the criminal charges. Mr. Benoit took the issue to the Department of Industrial Accidents, which ordered the city to restore payments. The city did not comply, prompting Mr. Benoit to sue, according to court documents. 

At issue was the city’s claim that a 1972 state law bans public-sector workers facing criminal charges from receiving compensation from a government agency. The court ruled unanimously Tuesday that the benefits are not salary, but an insurance agreement between the injured worker and the insurer. 

Justice Barbara A. Lenk wrote that since “workers’ compensation benefits do not constitute compensation for purposes of the suspension statute, that statute accordingly does not proscribe the receipt of such benefits by suspended employees.’’


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