The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a WCJ’s partial summary judgment denying a claimant temporary total disability benefits, despite the fact that the claimant was placed on paid administrative leave and later terminated for cause unrelated to her injury. In Carol Thomas v. Lafayette Parish School System, Thomas was injured after tripping over a pothole, the injury was determined to be within the course and scope of her employment. Thomas continued to work after her injury for one week before being placed on no work status by her treating physician, but was also placed on no work status on her full salary pending an investigation by the school board regarding a daycare business she operated on the side.
The school board terminated Thomas after discovering that she had been working at her own business during hours that she was being paid by them. They maintained and the WCJ agreed that Thomas’ termination was unrelated to her workers’ comp claim and filed a motion for partial summary judgment to dismiss Thomas’ claim for TTD on the grounds that she was terminated for cause.
Judge Thibodeaux wrote in his decision that, “though she owned a daycare business, her ownership does not ipso facto mean that she can return to gainful employment. Employees may be running the business on her behalf. The fact that the reasons for her termination occurred prior to the injury causing event is irrelevant when the injury occurred on the job. Her inability to work does not depend on the termination for cause, but on the work-related injury. There is nothing in the record that indicates Ms. Thomas was able to engage in gainful employment following October 28, 2009, when she was placed under the current no work status.”
Read the decision in its entirety here.