Join me for a ADA FMLA Roundtable hosted by Kaiser

Jamie CarltonMike Moses of Kaiser and I will be moderating an ADA/FMLA roundtable event to answer your ADA/FMLA questions. This is a roundtable forum, which allows employers to pose questions and get feedback in an informal environment. We will tackle real world situations presented by local employers. If you have a situation you would like to see on the agenda, please e-mail me at I hope to see you there. Details for the event are: Thursday, July 11th from 11:30 – 1 p.m. Kaiser Town Hall, 3704 N. Interstate Avenue, Portland, Oregon. Lunch will be provided. Please e-mail Dianne Gibson at if you would like to register.

New Washington 2013 Benefits Schedule Effective Today

lee ann loweOn June 25, 2013 the Department announced the 2013 benefits schedule. The cost of living adjustment (COLA) rate increase is 1.03409, based on a statewide average wage of $51,595 for 2012, a slight increase from the $49,894 average wage in 2011. The new COLA rate will be effective July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. RCW 51.32.072 continues to apply, meaning for injuries on or after July 1, 2011 COLA does not apply under the second July after the date of injury. Other notable changes in the benefits schedule effective July 1, 2013 include: For dates of injury on or after July 1, 2013: *The maximum monthly time loss rate is $5,159.50 *15% of the… Continue reading

US Supreme Court Issues Two Title VII Decisions That Favor Employers

Krishna Balasubramani | Sather Byerly and Holloway, Oregon and Washington Employment Law, Workers Compensation, Longshore, and OSHA Defense AttorneysOn June 24, 2013 the US Supreme Court issued 2 decisions dealing with Title VII cases. Both cases were decided by a divided 5-4 court and were decidedly ‘employer friendly’. Somewhat predictably, the same 5 conservative justices were in the majority on both cases. The Supreme Court accepted review of these two cases to clarify the law and resolve the conflict between the different legal interpretations being followed by different circuits. In the first case, the US Supreme Court ruled that Title VII retaliation claims must be proved according to traditional principles of ‘but-for’ causation, not the lesser ‘motivating factor’ test that applies to status based discrimination. This requires proof that the unlawful retaliation would not… Continue reading

Case Summary: Mendoza v. Liberty, Decided by the Court of Appeals June 12, 2013

deborah satherClaimant was the team leader of a small crew working for a property management company in its Portland location. Her responsibilities included distributing paychecks issued from the employer’s Tacoma, Washington office. The Employer allowed team leaders to travel to the Tacoma office to pick up paychecks, but did not pay team leaders for this travel time. If the team leader did not travel to the Tacoma office, the checks were mailed to the Portland office or delivered by the district manager. In December 2008, claimant was asked by another team leader to substitute and travel to the Tacoma office and pick up the paychecks. While in route, claimant was injured in a motor vehicle… Continue reading

Do I have to pre-approve a referral or treatment request?

rebecca watkinsWe are seeing more requests to pre-authorize referrals or treatment other than elective surgery. When no pre-authorization is given, claimants or medical providers file medical disputes with the WCD. However, the administrative rules do not require such pre-approval. In a recent dispute before the Medical Review Unit, SBH confronted this issue and successfully convinced the MRU that pre-authorization was not necessary for a referral to a specialist. The MRU order states: “While the director appreciates [the doctor] would prefer there be authorization for the referral to a knee specialist prior to making the referral, (assumedly for guarantee of payment), authorization by the insurer is not mandated by statute or rule.” Admin. Order of Dismissal, WCD… Continue reading

Teleworking: Employer Beware

Krishna BalasubramaniThe CEO of Yahoo! recently created headlines by ending the company’s telecommuting or teleworking program. Perhaps not surprisingly, the decision was met with criticism by those who consider it to be going against a modern trend. To be more precise, the practice of telecommuting has grown dramatically in recent years, increasing 31 percent in 2009 to represent 4.3 percent of all employment (up from 3.3 percent). A question that is not often asked is: are employers adequately prepared to handle the workers’ compensation liability created by teleworking employees? There are an increasing number of cases being issued by the Workers’ Compensation Board finding injuries occurring at or near… Continue reading

Learn What MLAC Can Do For You

lauren odaEmployers, HR Managers, and claims examiners – the Professionals in Workers’ Compensation organization is hosting their final educational breakfast event of the 2012-2013 season. Please join us for a great breakfast May 16, 2013 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Lloyd Center to learn about the importance of MLAC. What is MLAC? Why do we have it? What is it doing for us? Tami Cockeram, an MLAC committee member and City of Hillsboro Risk Manager will be presenting on the history and current activities of MLAC. MLAC is the Management-Labor Advisory Committee. MLAC was created in 1990 as an advisory committee to assist with workers’ compensation reform. MLAC provides a forum for business… Continue reading

Wednesday May 8, 2012 WCCA Luncheon – Work Disability: Strategies for Securing a Release or Return to Regular Work

Stephen VerotskyInjured workers have become more aggressive and creative in their pursuit of work disability awards because there is a lot of money at stake. If there is permanent impairment and an employer is unable to establish the worker was released or returned to “regular work,” then the worker is entitled to an enhanced award. A work disability award can result in a significant increase in permanent disability benefits. These work disability awards can and often do exceed $25,000. Work disability disputes focus on an injured worker’s regular job at the time of injury. The process of defining regular job duties is not easy. It starts with a written job description but… Continue reading

Oregon Employer Council – State Conference for Business

rebecca watkinsEmployers, HR managers, & Business Owners – The Oregon Employer Council is holding its annual State Conference for Business on May 6th & 7th on the Oregon Coast (Salishan). This will include keynote speakers such as the NOAA, which has its Marine Operations Center-Pacific in Newport, exhibit booths for businesses throughout Oregon, and breakout sessions on wide-ranging topics from employer immunity to workplace culture to legislative updates. Approved for 21.25 HCRI credits. Go to this link to view the agenda or register. I will be presenting on: Employer Immunity: When it Applies and Practices that Jeopardize it. I hope to see you there. Contact me with any questions at:  

Some Common Sense from The Oregon Court of Appeals!

brian perko Employers have reason to celebrate following the April 17, 2013 decision from the Court of Appeals in Pamela Hamilton v. SAIF. In this course and scope case, the Court ruled that an injury sustained when a worker fainted and fell in the course of her employment was not compensable. Claimant worked as a cook/cashier and was standing in the employer’s kitchen when she fainted and fell, striking her face on a brick floor and sustaining facial and dental damage. SAIF denied the claim. At hearing, claimant conceded the fainting incident and resultant fall… Continue reading