When an employee is terminated for cause, are TTD benefits still owed by the employer? The answer varies throughout jurisdictions so the team at Hennessy & Roach has provided what you need to know state-by-state below.

ILLINOIS

YES – In Illinois, an employer must continue to pay temporary total disability to an employee terminated for cause pursuant to Interstate Scaffolding, Inc. v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, 236 Ill. 2d 132 (2010).  The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act does not directly address this issue, so the inquiry surrounding it has been addressed through case law.  Recently, the courts have begun to reconsider this position in Illinois following the 2011 amendments to the Act. For a discussion of those recent cases and their impact on diminishing the affect of Interstate Scaffold, please review the memo here.

MISSOURI

NO – In Missouri, since August 28, 2005, an employee terminated for cause is ineligible for temporary total disability (“TTD”) benefits.  Under §287.170.4 Mo. Rev. Stat., the general rule is TTD benefits are not owed when an employee is terminated from employment based on post-injury misconduct.  However, what is less clear is what constitutes misconduct.  Much like in Iowa, the inquiry is fact-intensive and also requires a case by case analysis for determining whether the misconduct is related to the work injury.  See, Jones v. Harris Transp., 331 S.W.3d 744 (Mo. Ct. App. 2011).  For a discussion about the definition of misconduct in Missouri, please review the memo here.

INDIANA

NO – Pursuant to Indiana statutes, TTD may be terminated when the employee is unable or unavailable to work for reasons unrelated to the compensable injury. IC 22-3-3-7(c)(5).  While there is no Indiana case law on point, affirming an Employer terminating TTD when an Employee is terminated for cause, under Borgman v. Sugar Creek Animal Hospital, 782, N.E.2d 993 (Ind.Ct.App. 2002), the Court held where an Employee voluntarily resigns, then TTD benefits may be terminated under IC 22-3-3-7(c)(5) since the Employee was no longer working for reasons unrelated to the work injury.  For a more extensive discussion of this issue, please review the memo here.

WISCONSIN

For injuries occurring after March 2, 2016, the law in Wisconsin has changed.   For injuries occurring after March 2, 2016, the answer is NO – In Wisconsin, an employee that is released to light duty work and is then suspended or terminated due to misconduct or substantial fault as defined by unemployment statutes may have temporary benefits denied.   There is no case law interpreting the new statute.

For injuries occurring prior to March 2, 2016, the answer is YES– In Wisconsin, an employee terminated for cause remains eligible for temporary total disability benefits.  See DWD 80.47; Wis. Stat. § 102.43 (prior to 3/2/16), see also, Brakebush Bros., Inc. v. Labor & Indus. Rev. Comm’n, 210 Wis. 2d 623, 563 N.W. 2d 512 (1997).  The general rule is TTD benefits are paid by the employer or insurance carrier through healing plateau—or the point at which the employee will get no better or worse because of the compensable injury.  However, there are several EXCEPTIONS to this general rule.  For more information about those exceptions and the case law that governs them, please review the memo here. 

NEBRASKA

YES – An employee terminated for cause does not forfeit his/her TTD benefits simply because the employer would have accommodated light duty work in lieu of benefits.  In Guico v. Excel Corp., 260 Neb 712, 619 N.W.2d. 470 (2000), the Court held that the Employer has 2 choices – 1) to put the employee to work in a light duty position or 2) pay workers’ compensation benefits. Termination is not an option. See also, Manchester v. Drivers Management, LLC, 278 Neb 776, 775 N.W.2d 179 (2009). Please see the file memo here.

IOWA

YES – In Iowa, the law requires a fact-intensive inquiry on a case by case analysis.  The inquiry should focus on whether “suitable work” was offered to the employee and the employee refused the work.  If an employee was offered suitable work and refused it, the employee is not entitled to benefits.  See, Schutjer v. Algona Manor Care Center, 780 N.W.2d 549 (2010).  For a more extensive discussion of this issue and examples of other cases addressing it, please review the memo here.