The IRS may also impose a 10% excise tax or a maximum of $10,000 on an officer who knowingly entered into a transaction (Samuels and Shoretz).
When this happens, the official endeavors to enter a rebuttable presumption that the compensation and benefits are reasonable (Samuels and Shoretz 2002). The board of directors or trustees must approve the three criteria for the rebuttal. In the first, the board must be composed entirely of members unrelated to and not beholden to the officer in question. In the second, the board must possess reliable data, comparing its compensation level with those of other organizations in similar situations. This is intended to lead the board to make sure the officer's compensation has comparable fair-market value with others in the geographical area. The data may be secured form reputable and independent surveys and the third requires the adequate documentation of the fixed compensation as its basis for determination. Sources may be formal board minutes, compensation committee reports and/or written employee contracts or written employment offers from other organizations (Samuels and Shoretz).
Lawyers Now Required in Court
Commonwealth Court ruled that non-lawyers could no longer represent employers at unemployment compensation hearings (Dagan 2005). In the past, many companies hired non-lawyers or sent their employees to represent them and participate in the hearings. Claimants, however, may continue to hire non-lawyers or represent themselves. Some observers and critics believe that the ruling can complicate the hearings and prevent employees from challenging wrong or inappropriate benefit claims. The unemployment compensation board filed an appeal against the ruling. The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry sought a legislation, which would amend the statute on which the ruling was based (Dagan).
The unemployment compensation board fund pays benefits to employees who lost their jobs, except when terminated for cause (Dagan 2002). The rate paid by companies depends partly on the number of their employees listed in the rolls. Companies, which are unwilling to pay for claims may dispute their stand before the board. Some lawyers think the Commonwealth Court ruling would only complicate situations. They believe that lawyers would make a simple court situation more complex than it should be. Furthermore, many companies have remained unaware of the ruling and change in the format. They come to court unprepared. The Board gives companies the choice between delaying hearings and waiving their right to representation. Hiring lawyers is deemed costly to most of them. State officials think the new decision will delay unemployment cases and create a backlog, which they have been trying to reduce in the last few years. At the end of 2002 alone, there were 19,249 cases to deal with. The officials managed to reduce this number to 6,251 (Dagan).
The ruling derived from the Unemployment Compensation Law, which states that a claimant may be represented by a non-lawyer (Dagan 2002). This provision does not explicitly apply to employers. At hearings, attorneys must represent corporations, limited liability companies, trusts and associations. Their witnesses may testify without a need for a lawyer but they cannot raise an argument or a question. On the other hand, lone proprietors and individual partners may either personally represent their case or hire a layers. However, a non-lawyer third party may not represent them at hearings, according to the board (Dagan).
Mental Pay for Stress Not Proportionate to Demand
The workplace is a stressful place to be but data from the National Council r said that only a negligible part of all workers' compensation claims have been paid for mental injury (Mangan 2003). A case at the Wyoming Supreme Court illustrates this. It recently paid an employee's medical expenses and disability, which resulted from attempted suicide. The employee suffered from back injury at work. That the injury was compensable was the consensus. The employer not only did not object to paying the employee's medical bills and indemnity bills. He also thought it was the proper thing to do. But because of the back injuries, the employee could not come to work. He became depressed and attempted suicide. During the hearings, psychologists supported the employee's claim. But the court decided that the injuries did not warrant compensation. The appellate court affirmed the decision but the Supreme Court reversed it. The employer ended up paying the costs of the employee's self-inflicted wound (Mangan).
Risks managers saw the situation differently. They did not view the suicide attempt as arising from or occurring during employment (Mangan 2003). These were the two requirements of a compensable injury. The reversed ruling of the Wyoming Supreme Court surprised many risk management professionals. Such awards for suicide or attempted suicide are not new in the country. At the base of claims of this kind is a new and different kind of injury because it is psychological or psychiatric rather than physical. Worker compensation boards and industrial commissions throughout the country recognize three employment-relevant types of non-physical injuries. These are physical/mental, mental/physical and mental/mental injuries (Mangan).
A physical/mental injury is described as a psychological or psychiatric condition, which derives from a physical injury (Mangan 2003). The Wyoming Supreme Court recognized that the depression arising from the back injury was compensable. It fitted the definition of a physical/mental injury. A mental/physical injury resulting from a psychological or psychiatric condition occurs from or during the course of employment. Classic examples are ulcers and heart attacks due to job stress. The only way a court can bring in the injuries resulting from a suicide attempt will be to classify them as mental/physical. And a mental/mental injury is a psychiatric or psychological condition, which has no physical cause. Examples are the inability to enter the workplace or perform a task. Not all States have come to recognize mental/mental injuries as compensable. Those, which do, impose special or difficult requirements in diagnosing these injuries. This is to establish the connection between the employment and the injury (Mangan).
Some continue to content that the Wyoming Supreme Court decision did not apply to any of the three types (Mangan 2003). The proximate cause is, nonetheless, a physical injury, which arose from or occurred in the course of employment. It led to a mental/physical injury and, thus, applied to one of the three types. This also illustrates that mental injuries are not new in the workers' compensation arena. Those familiar with the workers' compensation law are not surprised to learn about benefits being awarded for heart attacks and work stress. Risk managers are among them yet they refuse to pay benefit claims for suicide and attempted suicide. Both are self-inflicted injuries arising from mental/physical injuries (Mangan).
Around the time of the Arizona Supreme Court allowed benefits for suicide and attempted suicide, insurers dealt with workers' compensation board, industrial commissions and courts. These bodies ordered the payment of benefits to employees who were afflicted with mental illnesses of occupation-related causes. Although only minimally represented, work-related psychiatric conditions captured attention attained prominence by the late 1980s. During that period, analysts forecast that these conditions would grow to be the occupational disease of the succeeding decade. Some of the analysts even made more dire predictions that that. Most States now require employers to make available workers' compensation benefits for physical/mental and mental/physical injuries. All States have come to recognize physical/mental and mental/physical injuries as compensable when arising out of, and occurring, during the course of employment (Mangan).
The response to this emerging crisis has been a tightening of requirements for the claims by State legislatures, workers' compensation boards and industrial commissions (Mangan 2003). These tightened requirements eliminated a substantial source of the claims themselves. The trend changed when the States removed such claims from workers' compensation by statute or judicial precedent. Other States established the pre-existence of the mental injury to the employment. Many States also require a diagnosis based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM of the American Psychiatric Association. The rest allow a psychologist to diagnose and treat compensable injuries claims only if the psychologist is licensed by the State. The requirements are also more rigid with psychiatric injuries with occupational causes than physical injuries (Mangan).
Risk managers familiar with workers' compensation claims for psychological injuries recognize this as an emerging pattern (Mangan 2003). Experts believe that the main factor to the emergence of psychological injury claims is cost shifting from the health care system. They perceive coverage for medical expenses and income benefits could be a strong incentive for health care professionals to locate an occupational cause for psychological and psychiatric disorders (Mangan).#
Auld, H.M. (2002). Better salaries, master's degrees and competition. 2 pages. Library Administrator's Digest: BCPL Foundation. Retrieved on September 24, 2008 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3850/is_200212/ai_n9154776?tag=content;col1
Dagan, D. (2005). Lawyers required in claims disputes. 3 pages. Central Penn Business
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