Many potential employers now require the submission of resumes and job applications online or by fax before committing to an interview of a prospective hire. However, the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission has just ruled that computer job hunting may be insufficient to satisfy the requirement that a partially disabled worker make a "reasonable effort " to market their "residual physical capacity."
In Ruffin v. Dover Corp., (VLW 010-12-03, 11/29/2010), the Full Commission agreed with the Deputy Commissioner who heard the claim that the insurance company could terminate the injured worker’s weekly wage loss benefits. What is particularly disturbing about this appellate decision is the fact that the disabled employee:
- Registered with the Virginia Employment Commission ("VEC") and used its online services,
- She took a class at Hopewell library in computers,
- She used a recommended website called "SnagAJob" to look for hourly positions,
- She visited stores in her geographical area but was told to apply online.
In a split decision, the Full Commission ruled that her efforts to find light duty work that she could perform was insufficient. While the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has no set standard for what constitutes "reasonable marketing efforts," it was thought that at least 2 contacts per week, similar to what is required by the VEC, would be sufficient. In the Ruffin case, the claimant put on evidence of 97 job contact in 10 months. Online job searches may be the norm nowadays, but in light of the decision in this case in favor of the employer and its workers comp insurance company, an injured worker may want to make some in-person visits when seeking light duty work. An experienced workers compensation lawyer will be able to counsel you so as to avoid having your comp benefits cut off unnecessarily.