Pennsylvanian workers’ compensation judges, considered management-level government employees, have recently gone to court regarding raises that were given to them and then later rescinded by the government. A three percent raise was instituted in March of 2008 and then recalled in Dec. of 2008 due to difficulties with the state budget. The judges argued that rescinding these raises was tantamount to the government taking private property for government use.
Workers’ compensation judges work to determine whether employees claiming workers’ compensation have a legitimate claim. These judges usually determine both the nature of the workplace injury and the extent of the injury of those injured while on the job. When claims are disputed by an employee’s company, they will fall before a workers’ compensation judge for determination. Due to the fact that these judges are state employees and that the money that was used for their salary was returned to the state, they believed that this constituted taking private property for public use.
However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not agree. Pennsylvania’s labor laws are at-will and government employees are provided the same protection by the law as non-government employees. This means that the salary of an employee, whether a government employee or not, cannot be considered private property, and therefore the employees do not have a legal right to either salary or pay increase. The judges disagree with this ruling on the basis that the budget for their salaries is separate from the rest of the state’s budget.
The subject of workers’ compensation is often hotly debated. Many companies and employees alike have a negative opinion of the workers’ compensation process, but it is of vital importance in protecting both employees and companies from injuries that occur at the job. Workers who feel that they have a valid compensation claim can contact their local state services to discuss their injury and their rights.
Source: Law, “Pa. Workers”, Gina Passarella, May 28, 2013