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    Cruz vs. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board- What Is The Proper Allocation Of The Burden of Proof Between An Employer And A Workers’ Compensation Claimant Regarding The Injured Employee’s Legal Eligibility Under Federal Immigration Law To Obtain Suitable Employment When The Employer Seeks To Suspend Disability Benefits?

    In this Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Decision, the Court held that the Employer bore the burden to prove that the loss of earning power of its employee, David Cruz, was due to his lack of United States citizenship or other legal work authorization in order to obtain a Suspension of his workers’ compensation disability benefits.

    The Court also held that Claimant’s invocation of his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned at the workers’ compensation hearing before the Work Comp Judge did NOT constitute substantial evidence of his alleged lack of legal authorization to be employed in the United States.

    The 23 page Decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was well organized and reached the right result. Per previous case law, the burden of an injured worker to prove eligibility for benefits is two-fold, 1) he or she was injured in the course and scope of employment, and 2) the injury resulted in a loss of earning power. Thus, a claimant’s eligibility to lawfully work in the US is not a relevant factor. Once an injury is established as work-related, to suspend benefits, it is the Employer’s burden of proof to show the factors necessary for a Suspension of benefits. In this regard, it’s the Employer’s burden to prove, through competent evidence, that claimant’s loss of earning power is due to her employment eligibility status under federal law.

    If you have questions about Pennsylvania Work Comp Law, call or email Attorney Cardamone 7 days a week at (215) 206-9068 or myphillyworkerscomp@gmail.com

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