Village of Lebanon, LLC v. Thompson, No. 2012-CA-000608-WC (Ky. Ct. App. 11/02/12, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that a nurse was entitled to vocational rehabilitation.
What it means: In Kentucky, when an injured worker is unable to perform work for which she has previous training or experience, she is entitled to vocational rehabilitation services, including retraining and job placement, as reasonably necessary to restore her to suitable employment.
Summary: A nurse sustained a knee injury while working for a village. She returned to work but was restricted from bending, stooping, climbing stairs, and assisting patients with walking. She felt that her coworkers resented her for not doing her share of the work, so she resigned. She began working as a home health care nurse, which involved fewer hours and similar, but less, pay. She indicated a desire to return to college to obtain a degree that would enable her to find a job in the health care field that met her physical restrictions and would not force her to sustain a loss of income. She filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits. The village asserted that an award of vocational rehabilitation benefits was not warranted because she found suitable employment. The Kentucky Court of Appeals held that she was entitled to vocational rehabilitation.
The nurse had an associate's degree and 15 years of experience in the nursing field. Her new job was more sedentary than her job at the village, but it still required a certain level of physical activity. Her pay at the new job also fluctuated based on how many home visits she completed each day. Her education level only qualified her for hands-on nursing positions that she was physically incapable of performing.
The administrative law judge found that additional formal education would give the nurse a better chance at steady employment consistent with her restrictions. The court agreed with this finding.
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February 18, 2013
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