Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Arbitration Decision Denying Claimant’s Request for Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Non-Related Part-Time Wages

Workers’ compensation claims can be stressful and complicated, especially if you are attempting to navigate the process on your own. The following opinion demonstrates how an experienced and dedicated Illinois work injury lawyer can help you ensure that you receive the full amount of benefits you deserve from the beginning while avoiding unnecessary delays.

A claimant sought an adjustment of his claim pursuant to the Illinois workers’ compensation laws, asking for benefits for injuries that he suffered on June 2, 2008, and on March 23, 2009. The claims were consolidated and then decided during an arbitration. The arbitrator concluded that the claimant’s injuries occurred during the course and scope of his occupation on the two dates and awarded temporary total disability benefits to the claimant, as well as medical expenses. The arbitrator denied the claimant’s request for payment of his attorney’s fees and payment of penalties. Additionally, the arbitrator awarded the claimant wage differential benefits but rejected the claimant’s request regarding how the benefits should be calculated.

The claimant was working as a pastor at the time the injuries took place, and his employer was aware of this additional occupation. According to the claimant, the benefits should include his salary as a pastor for the purpose of calculating the amount of weekly benefits he was entitled to receive. The arbitrator rejected this reasoning, concluding that the claimant failed to prove that his employer knew he was being compensated for his work as a pastor at the time the injuries occurred.

On appeal to the Commission, the arbitrator’s decision was mostly affirmed, with the Commission concluding that the arbitrator had properly excluded the claimant’s salary as a pastor for the purpose of calculating weekly benefit payments. The claimant appealed the decision to a local circuit court, which affirmed the decision. The claimant then appealed the matter again.

The claimant argued that his employer had reason to know that he received a salary as a pastor because the employer was aware that the claimant worked for a “fairly large” assembly and performed services twice per week. Also, the claimant alleged that the employer asked the claimant to say prayers at the factory and that several of the managers who worked for the company had seen the claimant preach or officiate religious events. Finally, the claimant noted that he had filed a religious discrimination claim against the employer.

The appellate court rejected the claimant’s argument and affirmed the arbitrator’s decision to exclude his salary as a pastor. None of the arguments the claimant set forth were sufficient to assume that the employer knew or should have known that the claimant was a salaried employee of a religious assembly.

If you are suffering from work-related injuries and believe that you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, the dedicated work injury lawyers at Therman Law Offices are prepared to assist you with asserting your legal right to benefits. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about whether or not you have a viable claim and how we can assist you. Call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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