WCAB Issues En Banc Decision in Anthony Dennis v. State of California – Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

On Monday April 13, 2020, the California Workers’ Compensation Adjudication Board (WCAB) issued an en banc decision affirming it’s July 31, 2018 decision in the case of Anthony Dennis v. State of California – Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 2020 Cal. Wrk. Comp. LEXIS 19, W.C.A.B. Case No. ADJ9346293. The WCAB found that:

(1) AD Rule 10133.54 is invalid because it exceeds the statutory authority granted to the Administrative Director under sections 4658.5, subdivision (c), and 4658.7, subdivision (h) and restricts the exclusive adjudicatory power of the WCAB to adjudicate compensation claims, including disputes over supplemental job displacement benefits [SJDB]; and

(2) an employer must show that it made a bona fide offer of regular, modified, or alternative work in order to avoid liability for a supplemental job displacement benefit voucher.

What does this mean for you?  This case holds that a Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) has the exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate SJDB voucher disputes, not the Administrative Director.  Moreover, an employer must make a “bona fide” offer of regular, modified or alternative work to avoid voucher liability.  The court distinguished the Del Taco line of cases from the instant matter and found that the offer was not bona fide job offer because applicant (who was an inmate) was released from prison and could not return to prison employment and, therefore, employer was not absolved of liability for SJDB.  There are potential implications for when the employer argues that it has no voucher liability when it does not make a conditional offer of mod/alt or regular work. 

Read the full decision here, and contact us with any questions about what this may mean for you.