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Tennessee high court upholds disability claim

Tennessee high court upholds disability claim

The Supreme Court of Tennessee on Wednesday upheld a woman’s disability claim despite her employer’s assertion that her impairment rating should be capped after she resigned her position following her inability to perform her job functions as result of a workplace injury.

Alicia Hunt was working at a makeup counter inside a Dillard’s department store in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2013 when she slipped off a stool, injuring her ankle and knee. In early 2014, after her compensable injury was found not healing, a doctor recommended she have surgery, but the employer denied the operation, according to court documents in Alicia Hunt v. Dillard’s Inc.

While on work restrictions in late 2014, Ms. Hunt testified that her supervisor pressured her to take a lower-paid position because she was “not making any money for the store,” according to documents. She told her supervisor she would rather resign. After her resignation, she had surgery. Following a recovery period, she attempted to get her job back in 2015 and was unsuccessful, documents state.

“When an employer does not return an injured employee to work at a wage equal to or greater than his or her pre-injury wage, the employee may receive permanent partial disability benefits up to six times the medical impairment rating,” according to court records.

Meanwhile, “(Dillard’s) asserts (Ms. Hunt) had a meaningful return to work after her injury, made a wage equal to or greater than her wage before the work injury, and voluntarily resigned on March 27, 2014, for reasons unrelated to her work injury.” Dillard’s asserted that Ms. Hunt’s benefits “should have been limited to one and one-half times the anatomical impairment rating,” per court records.

The trial court found Dillard’s assertions incorrect, weighing heavily the testimony of Ms. Hunt that “she did not want to resign, but she was called into (her supervisor’s) office and informed she needed to step down … and accept a position earning less money than she earned prior to her injury.”

The Supreme Court of Tennessee affirmed this decision, finding the employer’s motion for review “not well taken and is, therefore, denied.”. 




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