In a recent decision (VanWinkle v. Harden Furniture), the Appellate Court ruled that a woman who took a less physically strenuous job due an injury suffered at her previous place of work did not voluntarily remove herself from the job market and is entitled to her full workers' compensation benefits.
Melissa VanWinkle was a woodworker for Harden furniture. In October of 2004 she suffered a work-related back injury. She was away from work for three months, but returned with the restriction that she not handle anythingheavier than 10 pounds. She continued working until August 2005, but found that her job required her to lift heavier objects. She asked for a transfer to a less physically demanding office position, but her employee told her that none were available. This forced her to resign and take a lower paying but less strenuous job.
Her former employee contended that this signaled a voluntary withdrawal from the labor market, meaning she would not receive the benefits she was entitled too. However, the court took the side of Ms. VanWinkle