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Decision for Employer/Client Regarding Employee Claim for Wages - Labor Standards
Our client`s former employee filed a claim for unpaid wages with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, Labor Standards division.  The employee had been unable to return to work due to a covered workers` compensation injury in December 2013.  He was subsequently discharged in May after he had been unable to return to work and due to changes in the business.  Despite that, he claimed he was owed over $6,000.00 consisting of $500.00 per month in medical reimbursement from January to May 2014 and ten days vacation time.  He added a claim that he was owed for forty-four hours of work during the period he was recovering from his work related injury.
 
Brian Hunter was able to show that evidence demonstrated the employee was not owed any of the claimed compensation as he had not engaged in any covered employment following his injury and was otherwise unable to perform the essential duties of his job for which he was hired.
 
On September 4, 2014, Labor Standards found that the activities that the employee claimed he was owed wages for following his injury were for pre-employment activities such as filling out applications, training and driving tests which were conditions of employment that benefitted the employee and not the employer.  Labor Standards applied the six-part test of the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) to determine if the pre-employment training was compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):  
 
            1) The training, even though it includes actual operation in the
                  employer`s facilities, is similar to training that would be given
                  in a vocational school (this means the training is "fungible,"
                  or interchangeable, and can be used by the employee in another
                  position with another employer);
            2) The training is for the benefit of the trainee;
            3) The trainees do not displace regular employees but work under
                  close observation;
            4) The employer that provides the training derives no immediate
                  advantage from the trainees` activities and at least on occasion,
                  its operation may actually be impeded;
            5) The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion
                  of the training period; and
            6) Both the employer and the trainees have an understanding that
                  the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.
 
In short, Labor Standards determined that the activities were not compensable.  
  
Furthermore, it was determined that the employee was receiving Temporary Total Disability benefits from the Wyoming Workers` Compensation Division and that payment of the requested compensation would amount to a double recovery.
 
This decision was upheld on review by the Department of Labor Standards on October  7, 2010.
Settlement of American with Disabilities Act and Fair Employment Practices Act Claim
Sean Scoggin negotiated a settlement on behalf of our client, owner of a McDonald`s franchise, regarding a claim brought against it by a former employee pursuant to the American with Disabilities Act and Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act.  
 
The employee alleged that he was discriminated against on the basis of his disability and that he was not afforded reasonable accommodations by his employer and that he was discharged on the basis of his disability.  
 
The evidence demonstrated that our client had made numerous attempts to accommodate the employee by providing a job coach and by moving him to different jobs within the restaurant.  He showed he was unable to perform the work in these different jobs at a satisfactory level or was otherwise restricted from the job due to health restrictions placed by his physicians.  The employee was discharged after he failed to show for a meeting to discuss appropriate work conditions for him and because the employer was informed that he had found new employment.  
 
The Employee agreed to accept as settlement $3,500.00 and six free Value Meal coupons.   
Office of Administrative Hearings Finds in Favor of Client in Workers` Compensation Claim for Benefits related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
The Office of Administrative Hearings found in favor of the Claimant, our client, represented by Brian J. Hunter and extended Workers` Compensation coverage for bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The Wyoming Workers` Compensation Division had objected to coverage on grounds that our client had filed a late claim and that her carpal tunnel syndrome was not related to her substantial work on a computer and keyboard use.  The Hearing Examiner found that the Division`s medical expert lacked credibility with regard to his testimony that computer keyboard use is not a cause of CTS and that the Claimant did not have CTS at his examination.  
 
The decision noted that four of Claimant`s doctors found her to have CTS and that the testimony from Claimant`s primary physician that keyboarding was a contributing factor but not the sole cause of the CTS was more credible.  It was also noted that Claimant`s symptoms decreased when away from work for significant periods of time.  The issue of late filing of the Report of Injury was also resolved in favor of Claimant by finding the filing to be timely, and that even if the report was late there was no prejudice to the Division due to the limited treatment Claimant received.  
Successful Defense of Punitive Damages Claim Stemming From Auto Accident
Sean W. Scoggin provided a successful defense to our client in an automobile accident.  Plaintiff met our client a local bar and proceeded to ask him for a ride.  Plaintiff alleged that she did not know that Defendant had been drinking.  The ride resulted in a one vehicle accident and our client was found to be driving under the influence of alcohol.  Our client admitted fault but did not waive a finding of comparative fault on the part of the Plaintiff.
 
Expert testimony of Plaintiff`s emergency room doctor established, contrary to her testimony, that there was no loss of consciousness and she was discharged without pain medication with a pain level no pain.  A defense expert reviewed Plaintiff`s medical records and testified at trial that Plaintiff suffered no more than a bruised sternum and small abrasions and that complaints regarding the low back and neck were pre-existing complaint and not related to the accident.
 
Plaintiff made a claim to the jury for $850,000 in damages.  The Jury awarded $15,000 in damages and denied a request for punitive damages. Our client was found negligent by the jury but also apportioned 45 percent of the fault to Plaintiff thereby reducing her award to $8,250.

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