Week In Review

December 14, 2015

Employee injured at work lawfully terminated under uniform leave policy
The highest court in Texas has held that if an employee exhausts the medical leave authorized by a reasonable company policy, he or she can be terminated even if the injury was suffered on the job. The Court held that no workers’ compensation retaliation claim is viable in these circumstances as long as the employer enforces its leave policy in a uniform manner. The employee was participating in demolition work at a job site when a light fixture fell and lacerated his wrist, cutting two tendons and the median nerve. He needed surgery on his wrist. While recuperating, he received a letter from the employer that he would be “placed on Family Medical Leave during your workers compensation leave.” When his 12 weeks of FMLA leave expired and his doctor had not yet released him to return to work, the employer terminated him under its written leave policy, telling him that he could reapply for a position once he was healthy. The employer’s policy stated that “a leave generally may not exceed three months, and an employee who fails to return to work within three months of the leave of absence will be terminated.” The policy emphasized that “in no event can family/medical leave last for longer than twelve weeks.”
The employer’s personnel records indicated that the policy was uniformly enforced. In particular, four other employees had been terminated under the leave policy, and two of them, like the employee here, had been on workers’ compensation leave at the time they were discharged. It is notable that the Court did not discuss whether the employer had engaged in the interactive process to satisfy the reasonable accommodation obligation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Employer pays $160K to end case over sight-impaired worker’s withdrawn job offer
An employee who is legally blind had worked for the employer for more than four years as a driver’s helper. When the company eliminated his job so it could use contract laborers instead, the employee applied for a position as a night warehouse associate. The employer offered him the position subject to a pre-employment medical examination. After the examination, the employer withdrew the job offer due to the employee’s poor eyesight. The position involved, among other things, loading cases of liquor and kegs of beer into the back of trucks – a job that the EEOC contended the employee could safely perform.

IRS gives ALEs eight information reporting, offer of health coverage tips
The IRS has published eight things it says applicable large employers (ALEs) should know about upcoming information returns that must be filed at the beginning of 2016. ALEs are generally those employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees in the preceding calendar year. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires applicable large employers to file information reporting returns with the IRS and employees, and, although the vast majority of employers are not ALEs and are not subject to this health care tax provision, those who are must use Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns, and Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage. These forms are used to report certain information about offers of health coverage and enrollment in health coverage for an ALE’s employees: (1) Use Form 1095-C to report information about each employee who was a full-time employee of the ALE member for any month of the calendar year; (2) Use Form 1094-C to report to the IRS summary information for each employer, and to transmit Forms 1095-C to the IRS; (3) An ALE files a separate Form 1095-C for each of its full-time employees, and a transmittal on Form 1094-C for all of the returns filed for a given calendar year; (4) Employers that offer employer-sponsored self-insured coverage use Form 1095-C to report information to the IRS and to employees about individuals who have minimum essential coverage under the employer plan; (5) The IRS uses information reported on Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C to determine whether an employer owes a payment under the employer shared responsibility provisions; (6) Form 1095-C is used by the IRS and the employee in determining the eligibility of the employee for the premium tax credit; (7) An ALE may satisfy this requirement by filing a substitute form, but the substitute form must include all of the information required on Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C and satisfy all form and content requirements as specified by the IRS; and (8) ALEs must file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C, or substitute forms regardless of whether they offer coverage, or their employees enroll in any coverage offered.

SESCO recommends that clients review all applicable policy and practices to ensure compliance. For assistance, contact us at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com